Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nomination of New York Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, making her the first Hispanic Judge on the court.

Ms. Sotomayor was pushed hard by Latino legal organizations and by New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who pressed her case as a relative moderate on the president's short list.

Mr. Obama decided on Ms. Sotomayor Monday afternoon; he had met with her Thursday in the White House.

She would succeed Justice David Souter, who announced that he would retire when the court's current term ends in June.

Mr. Obama has said he would like Senate confirmation hearings to take place this summer and a confirmation vote in time for his nominee to be seated at the opening of the court's next term, in October.

Some Republicans have threatened to try and delay an Obama high-court appointment, much as the then-Illinois senator and other Democrats blocked many judicial appointments by President George W. Bush.

But even conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold confirmation hearings likely this summer, has singled out Ms. Sotomayor as a compelling choice.

She grew up in a housing project in New York City's South Bronx neighborhood and went on to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976, and she was editor of the Yale Law Journal, graduating in 1979.

The 54-year-old judge was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush and elevated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton.

Ms. Sotomayor's Puerto Rican heritage would make her the first Hispanic to become a Supreme Court justice -- though some court historians say that Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who served on the high court from 1932 to 1938 and was a distant descendent of Portuguese Jews, would qualify for that distinction.

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