Hispanic Lawmakers: Sotomayor Nomination Is Groundbreaking

Posted May 26, 2009 at 12:27pm

Leading Latino lawmakers on Tuesday were celebrating the news of the first Hispanic nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) praised “the experience, discipline, integrity, commitment and intellectual prowess— of Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s pick for the upcoming vacancy on the high court. Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic justice and the third female to serve on the nation’s highest court.

“She has consistently demonstrated a balanced, clear-minded respect for our laws and our Constitution,— Velázquez said. “She embodies our shared belief that, if you are talented and willing to work hard, the American dream is within reach.—

Sotomayor, a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1998, is the daughter of a Puerto Rican father, a manual laborer who died when she was nine. She has been on Obama’s short list since Justice David Souter announced recently that he would retire in June.

The fact that Sotomayor is Hispanic “is significant and is tangible proof of the strength derived by the diversity represented in American society,— CHC Vice Chair Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) said.

Still, Gonzalez said, “the nomination of such an overwhelmingly qualified judge to serve on the Supreme Court should be celebrated by all Americans.—

Touching on the politically explosive issue of immigration reform, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said Sotomayor’s life is “a testament to the power of education and hard work that defines and lifts so many immigrant families. She is uniquely qualified to ensure that all communities are treated fairly in the eyes of the law.—

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban American, said Obama made a “wise— choice by nominating Sotomayor because she can help “to diversify a bench that has never truly reflected the diversity of our society.—

“Diversity is about more than a good group photo, it’s about bringing particular life experiences, which others may not fully understand, to our system of justice. Judge Sotomayor’s personal background is rich with the joys and hardships that millions of American families share,— said Menendez.

Sotomayor left the Bronx housing projects to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University and receive her law degree from Yale. She served as assistant district attorney in Manhattan and was in private practice before being nominated by President George H.W. Bush for the federal district court.

“Certainly, as an American of Hispanic descent, it fills me with pride to have the opportunity to cast a vote to confirm this groundbreaking nominee,— Menendez said.

But he emphasized that in addition to being Hispanic, Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years.