Sotomayor Brings Most Judicial Experience

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Judge Sotomayor will bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years

[Op-Ed: National]

Earlier today, Thursday, August 06, 2009, by a vote of 68 yeas to 31 nays, the
United States Senate voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Associate
Justice on the United States Supreme Court.  

Judge Sotomayor will take a seat on the highest court of the land when it begins its next session in October.  Of the 110 Justices who have served on the Supreme Court in its entire history, Judge Sotomayor will be only the third woman and the first Hispanic Justice. 

Sonia Sotomayor is an excellent choice. The daughter of immigrant parents --her father, a tool-and-die worker with a third grade education, died when she was nine years old; her mother, a nurse, raised Judge Sotomayor and her brother on a very
modest salary— she grew up in the housing projects in the Bronx.  She went on to graduate from Princeton University summa cum laude in 1976, and then from Yale Law School (where she was the editor of the law journal) in 1979. 

After law school she got a job as an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted cases involving police brutality, murder, child pornography and assaults.  After a time in private practice, she was nominated in 1991 by President George H. Bush to serve as a federal judge for the U.S. District Court, southern District of New York.  Six years later, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as an appellate judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where she has served since 1998.  She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. 

No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience.  Judge Sotomayor will bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years.  She has been a big-city prosecutor and a corporate litigator, a federal trial judge on the U.S. District Court, and an appellate judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  She will bring much needed diversity to the court of last appeals.


Shelton is Director of the NAACP Washington, D.C, bureau

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