Okay folks. I’m biased. She’s a Boricua (Puerto Rican), from Da Bronx. She grew up in the projects. Anyone who knows the projects and the daily lives of po’ folks in the Big Mango (aka the Big Apple) gets a gold star in my book.
She is really smart. Saavy. Gutsy. Has a sense of humor.
take a listen.
UPDATE – adding this video just uploaded to Youtube:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor describes her long journey from a housing project in an urban Puerto Rican neighborhood to the memorable day she was given a private tour of the White House, when she was a newly appointed federal judge.
A video from the Law School Admission Council in 2004.
She is going to be attacked (already has been) by a slew of wing-nuts.
See my diary from early this month:
TNR’s (Rosen) sexist hatchet-job against Sotomayor
Here’s a brief bio from wiki:
Early life and family
Sotomayor was born in the Bronx, New York, to Puerto Rican parents. She grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx, just a short walk from Yankee Stadium. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 8. Her father, a tool-and-die worker with a third-grade education, died the following year. Her mother, a nurse, raised Sotomayor and her younger brother, who is now a doctor, on a modest salary. In 1976 Sotomayor married while still a student at Princeton University, and divorced in 1983.
Education and early legal career
Sonia Sotomayor graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. She earned her A.B. from Princeton University, summa cum laude, in 1976, where she won the Pyne Prize, the highest general award given to Princeton undergraduates. Sotomayor obtained her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Sotomayor then served as an Assistant District Attorney under prominent New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, prosecuting robberies, assaults, murders, police brutality, and child pornography cases. In 1984, she entered private practice, making partner at the commercial litigation firm of Pavia & Harcourt, where she specialized in intellectual property litigation.
She tells her own story at this commencement address to students at Pace University Law School (sorry no transcript available):
Sonia Sotomayor, Pace Law School Annual Commencement, May 18, 2003 (Part 1 of 2)
Sonia Sotomayor, Pace Law School Annual Commencement, May 18, 2003 (Part 2 of 2)
She talks about growing up, speaks about her dreams, her judicial perspective. She talks about her friends, her family, and the importance of valuing goodness and giving to others.
We will hear a slew of opinions about her judicial perspective, her experience, her attitudes.
CNN has a review of her background and qualifications which includes a few pithy quotes:
“I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society….
“I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that – it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others….
“Our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor [Martha] Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” [U.C. Berkeley School of Law, 10/26/2001]
Some folks are gonna find those remarks controversial. For me they are a cause for celebration! I am simply elated that this homegirl, this extraordinary woman of color, is going to have a shot at the high seat.
It’s a long road from da Bronx to SCOTUS. I hope you all will fight back against the attacks that have already been launched and help see her seated at a table that has never had a woman like this.
To quote Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri’s classic poem Puerto Rican Obituary:
They were always on time
They were never late
They never spoke back
when they were insulted
They never took days off
that were not on the calendar
They never went on strike
ten days a week
and were only paid for five
and they died
They died broke
They died owing
They died never knowing
what the front entrance
of the first national city bank looks like
All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow…
Sonia Sotomayor defied that obit. She never gave up on her dreams. She has encouraged young folks to follow those dreams.