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Major Introductory Resources:

Sotomayor In the Dock
By John Perazzo
July 14, 2009

Filling the Activist Quota
By John Perazzo
May 27, 2009

The Next Token Justice?
By John Perazzo
May 7, 2009

The Surprising Details About Sonia Sotomayor’s College Past That You Won’t Find in Her New Book
By Charles C. Johnson
January 29, 2013


Video:

Sotomayor Video: Judges Make Policy, Latinas Better than Whites
By Kenneth D. Williams
May 26, 2009


Additional Resources:

Justices Tackle McCain-Feingold While Sotomayor Throws a Curve
By Ken Klukowski
September 15, 2009

Supreme Sonia: Fear What She Will Do Outside of the Court, Not Inside
By John Wohlstetter
August 17, 2009

Sotomayor's Confirmation Isn't a Win for the White House
By Ken Klukowski
August 9, 2009

Sotomayor Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice
By FOXNews.com
August 8, 2009

A GOP That Can Say No
By Pat Buchanan
August 7, 2009

Senate Confirms Sonia Sotomayor to U.S. Supreme Court
By FOXNews.com
August 6, 2009

The Death of the Living Constitution
By Mario Diaz
August 6, 2009

FRC Statement On Sonia Sotomayor's Confirmation
By the Family Research Council
August 6, 2009

Key Senator Thinks Sotomayor Vote Represents Crossroads
By Jillian Bandes
August 5, 2009

Sotomayor's Ties to La Raza
By Tom Tancredo
July 31, 2009

St. Sonia the Obscure, or: The Triumph of the Opaque
By Paul Greenberg
July 29, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor Confirmed by Senate Judiciary Committee
By Mark Whittington
July 28, 2009

Judging the Truth
By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
July 28, 2009

Foreign Law Shouldn't Impact American Gun-owners
By Ken Klukowski
July 28, 2009

Senate Opposition to Sotomayor Clearly Evident
By Chad Groening
July 27, 2009

Professor Gates, Officer Crowley, President Obama—and the New York Fire Department
By Steve Sailer
July 26, 2009

Hispanic Firefighter Says Sotomayor Judged Him on Race Rather Than Content of Character
By Edwin Mora
July 22, 2009

Top Republican Dissatisfied with Sotomayor’s Answers On Second Amendment
By Edwin Mora
July 20, 2009

Sotomayor Would Not Concede a Right to Self-Defense
By Adam Brickley
July 20, 2009

Why the GOP Failed the Sotomayor Test
By Byron York
July 20, 2009

Wise Latina’ Routs Gang of White Men
By Wesley Pruden
July 17, 2009

Americans Deserve American Laws
By Ed Feulner
July 17, 2009

Of Race, Gender and Justice
By Linda Chavez
July 17, 2009

Frank Ricci: The Left's Newest Target
By Gregory Gethard
July 17, 2009

Sotomayor Disqualified by Cross Examination 101
By Dave Weinbaum
July 17, 2009

Sotomayor Claims Little Involvement with PRLDEF
By Connie Hair
July 16, 2009

New Bork, New York
By James Taranto
July 16, 2009

The Audacity of Self-defense
By Debra J. Saunders
July 16, 2009

Sotomayor Sat on Board of Organization That Fought ‘Any Efforts’ to Oppose Abortion
By Matt Cover
July 16, 2009

Confirmation Hearings Pointless, Waste of Time
By Jim Brown
July 16, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor: Liar?
By John Armor
July 15, 2009

The Real Litmus Tests Sotomayor Should Face
By Ben Shapiro
July 15, 2009

Lies, Leahy and the Wise Latina
By Robert Knight
July 15, 2009

Kabuki and Sonia Sotomayor
By Jeff Jacoby
July 15, 2009

No Diversity with Sotomayor
By Roger Simon
July 15, 2009

Sotomayor Let Wrongly Convicted Man Languish in Prison
By Claude Cartaginese
July 15, 2009

Trumping the Race Card
By Matthew Vadum
July 14, 2009

The Soto Show: Race Up for Grabs
By Jillian Bandes
July 14, 2009

Empathy and Antipathy: Lady Justice Loses Her Blindfold
By Robert Tracinski
July 14, 2009

Hell Is for ‘Heroes’
By David Limbaugh
July 14, 2009

How to Handle Sonia
By Patrick J. Buchanan
July 14, 2009

Calling Balls and Strikes on the Supreme Court
By Bobby Eberle
July 14, 2009

Sotomayor: ‘I Have Friends Who Hunt’
By Susan Jones
July 14, 2009

Sotomayor ‘Clearly Rejected’ Impartiality, Kyl Says
By Matt Cover
July 14, 2009

Robert Bork: Sotomayor Unqualified, Isn't 'Entirely Governed by Law'
By Jim Meyers
July 14, 2009

Sotomayor Opposes Gun Rights
By Matthew Vadum
July 14, 2009

Key Questions for Sonia Sotomayor
By Deborah O'Malley and Robert Alt
July 13, 2009

Maddow Says Opposition to Sotomayor “Is Substantially about Race”
By John Perazzo
July 13, 2009

What the GOPers Will Ask Sotomayor
By Byron York
July 13, 2009

Sotomayor Stands Alone
By Mario Diaz
July 13, 2009

Questions for Sotomayor
By Jed Babbin
July 10, 2009

Sotomayor's Selective Empathy
By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown
July 10, 2009

Sotomayor Was Part of Legal Group that Argued Abortion Is a ‘Fundamental Right’
By Fred Lucas
July 10, 2009

How Ricci Almost Disappeared
By Stuart Taylor
July 10, 2009

My Questions for Sotomayor—Will Republicans Dare Ask Them?
By Steve Sailer
July 9, 2009

Firefighter Ricci to Testify at Sotomayor Hearings
By Christopher Stern
July 9, 2009

Sotomayor Supported Censoring Biblical Verse on Homosexuality from New York City Billboard
By Adam Brickley
July 8, 2009

NRA Sends Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Expressing Strong Concerns Over Sotomayor's Record on the Second Amendment (pdf)
By The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action
July 7, 2009

Sotomayor Failed to Disclose to Senate Memo in Which She Argued Death Penalty Is 'Racist'
By Pete Winn
June 5, 2009

New Documents Connect Sotomayor to Leftist Agenda
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
July 4, 2009

The Meaning of Ricci
By Charles Krauthammer
July 3, 2009

Sotomayor and Quotas
By Linda Chavez
July 3, 2009

So Much for Wise Latinas
By Ann Coulter
July 2, 2009

Firefighter Case Shows Seamy Side of Racial Politics
By Michael Barone
July 2, 2009

Ricci and the Title VII Catch
By La Shawn Barber
July 2, 2009

Equality on Trial
By Thomas Sowell
July 1, 2009

Death, Taxes, and Judge Sotomayor
By Ken Blackwell
July 1, 2009

Reversing “Reverse Discrimination”
By John Perazzo
June 30, 2009

Sotomayor Achilles' Heel?
By Bob Unruh
June 30, 2009

On Race, the Slog Goes On
By George Will
June 30, 2009

Supreme Court Reverses Sotomayor's Ruling against New Haven Firefighters Who Claimed Reverse Discrimation
By Matt Cover
June 30, 2009

Message to Obama Nominee: Discrimination Is Wrong
By Bobby Eberle
June 30, 2009

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 for Frank Ricci / against Sonia Sotomayor
By Steve Sailer
June 29, 2009

Is Ruling Injurious to Sotomayor's Nomination?
By Jim Brown
June 29, 2009

9-0 against Sotomayor
By Ed Whelan
June 29, 2009

That Sotomayor Decision: One Law for Frank Ricci—Another for Emily Bazelon?
By Steve Sailer
June 28, 2009

Sotomayor’s Racialist Judicial Activism
By Ben Johnson
June 26, 2009

Sotomayor and the War on Terror
By Stephanie Hessler
June 25, 2009

The Supreme Court Nominee Who Can't Write
By Carey Roberts
June 25, 2009

Sotomayor Overturned Prison Regulations to Allow Santeria-Practicing Convicts to Wear Beads
By Fadia Galindo
June 22, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor: Barack Obama’s Ideological Soul Mate
By Steve Sailer
June 22, 2009

Sotomayor’s Radical, Racist Friends at LatinoJustice
By Matthew Vadum
June 19, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (pdf)
By Judicial Watch
June 17, 2009

Bailing Out Sotomayor
By Mario Diaz
June 17, 2009

Guns in Unincorporated Territory
By Jacob Sullum
June 17, 2009

Equality or Pay-back?
By Thomas Sowell
June 16, 2009

Sotomayor Task Force Found Racial and Gender Bias among Judges and Lawyers in Federal Courts
By Fred Lucas
June 16, 2009

Question Sotomayor on Hamilton's Views
By Jed Babbin
June 15, 2009

Sotomayor: Never Thought about Rights of Unborn
By Jim Brown
June 11, 2009

Sotomayor On Affirmative Action
By Steve Sailer
June 11, 2009

Rush to Judge-ment
By Gregory Gethard
June 11, 2009

Videos Shed New Light on Sotomayor’s Positions
By Charlie Savage
June 10, 2009

Judge Sotomayor and the Second Amendment
By Paul Broun
June 9, 2009

The Constitution Must Trump Racial Politics
By Israel Ortega
June 9, 2009

The Problem with Judicial Empathy
By Terry Eastland
June 8, 2009

'A Wise Latina Woman'
By Jennifer Rubin
June 6, 2009

Sotomayor and the Diversity Crowd
By Linda Chavez
June 5, 2009

No Slouching Toward Confirmation
By Suzanne Fields
June 5, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor Advocates Use of International Law
The Traditional Values Coalition
June 4, 2009

Sotomayor's Flawed Reasoning
By Bob Tyrrell
June 4, 2009

‘Out of Context’: Part III
By Thomas Sowell
June 4, 2009

Judicial Fairytales
By Mario Diaz
June 4, 2009

To Filibuster or Not to Filibuster... That Is the Question
By Bobby Eberle
June 4, 2009

The Diversity Mess
By Victor Davis Hanson
June 4, 2009

The Bork Legacy Haunts Sotomayor
By David Broder
June 4, 2009

Advancing Civil Rights by Overturning Old Laws
By Michael Barone
June 4, 2009

‘Out of Context’: Part II
By Thomas Sowell
June 3, 2009

Sotomayor’s Empathy: Beyond Race
By Anthony Dick
June 3, 2009

The Sotomayor Debate Is a Chance to Talk it Out On Race
By Jonah Goldberg
June 3, 2009

Sotomayor: More than "Gender" and Ethnicity
By Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
June 3, 2009

Wanted: Equal Treatment, Not Identity Politics
By Sabrina L. Schaeffer
June 3, 2009

Bad On Guns
By Brian Darling
June 3, 2009

‘Out of Context’
By Thomas Sowell
June 2, 2009

A Quota Queen for the Court
By Pat Buchanan
June 2, 2009

How Sotomayor Misspoke
By Rich Lowry
June 2, 2009

Howard Dean Says Sotomayor's Race Comment Taken Out of Context--then Admits He Doesn't Know the Context
By Penny Starr
June 2, 2009

Sotomayor Fits Obama's 'Get-Even' Power Approach
By David Limbaugh
June 2, 2009

Judge Sotomayor Would Think Me Most Unwise
By John Kass
June 2, 2009

Will Sotomayor's Style Blunt Her Liberal Views?
By Michael Barone
June 2, 2009

The Tyranny of Empathy
By Scott Wheeler
June 2, 2009

Some Compelling Stories Are 'Better' than Others
By Paul Fuller
June 2, 2009

Sotomayor, from Those Who Know Her
By Jack Kelly
June 1, 2009

When the Dems Derailed a Latino Nominee
By Byron York
June 1, 2009

Latinonsense
By Lloyd Billingsley
June 1, 2009

Child of Grievance
By Jed Babbin
June 1, 2009

Supreme Justice Requires Real Equality
By Kathryn Lopez
June 1, 2009

For GOP, Hearings Will Bring Opportunities
By Donald Lambro
June 1, 2009

Sotomayor On Ricci
By Steve Sailer
June 1, 2009

The Sotomayor Scandal: What Does it Mean for America?
By Steve Sailer
May 31, 2009

Sotomayor and 'Disparate Impact'
By Stuart Taylor
May 30, 2009

Three Stories and One Supreme Court Nominee
By Sandy Rios
May 29, 2009

Obama's Idea of Justice
By Pat Buchanan
May 29, 2009

White Firemen Have a "Compelling Life Story," Too
By Michael Reagan
May 29, 2009

Republican Strategy On Sotomayor
By Jillian Bandes
May 29, 2009

Equal Justice for Some?
By Rich Tucker
May 29, 2009

Shaping the Court
By Linda Chavez
May 29, 2009

No Free Ride for Sotomayor
By David Harsanyi
May 29, 2009

The U.S. Constitution: Living, Breathing Document or Dead Letter?
By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson
May 29, 2009

Sotomayor Labeled 'Hispanic Supremacist'
By Chad Groening
May 29, 2009

White House: Sotomayor Used Poor Choice of Words in ‘Latina Woman’ Comment
By Fred Lucas
May 29, 2009

White House Struggles to Defend Sotomayor’s Race Statement
By Fred Lucas
May 28, 2009

Opposing Sotomayor Is the Right's Thing to Do
By Diana West
May 28, 2009

Minority Status Not a Qualification for the Supreme Court
By Mario Diaz
May 28, 2009

Biography and the Law
By Cal Thomas
May 28, 2009

Sotomayor, as Student, Attacked Princeton as Anti-Latino
By Stuart Taylor
May 28, 2009

Sotomayor's and Obama's Identity Politics Leave Blind Justice at Risk
By Robert Alt
May 28, 2009

Obama Never Asked Court Nominee about Abortion, White House Says
By Fred Lucas
May 28, 2009

Sotomayor Ruled That States Do Not Have to Obey Second Amendment
By Matt Cover
May 28, 2009

Nominee’s Links with Advocates Fuel Her Critics
By Raymond Hernandez and David W. ChenMay 28, 2009

I Feel Your Pain. Not Theirs. Yours
By Ann Coulter
May 27, 2009

‘Empathy’ in Action
By Thomas Sowell
May 27, 2009

Not All ‘Compelling Personal Stories’ Are Equal
By Michelle Malkin
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor, Reverse Empathy and the Rule of Law
By David Limbaugh
May 27, 2009

Identity Politics on the Supreme Court
By George Will
May 27, 2009

On Sotomayor, Obama Can’t Hide Behind the Bushes
By Ken Blackwell
May 27, 2009

In Sotomayor's Own Words
By Human Events
May 27, 2009

Empathy v. Impartiality
By Jonah Goldberg
May 27, 2009

Some Key Questions for Sonia Sotomayor
By Robert Knight
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor’s Radical Legal Group Helped Kill the Estrada Nomination
By Matthew Vadum
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Hostile to Gun Rights, Scholar Says
By NewsMax.com
May 27, 2009

Obama—Who Opposes School Choice—Touts Sotomayor's ‘Good’ Catholic Education
By Terence P. Jeffrey
May 27, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor 'La Raza Member'
By Joe Kovacs
May 27, 2009

Gingrich: Sotomayor 'Racist,' Should Withdraw
By NewsMax.com
May 27, 2009

Pat Robertson: Sotomayor Nomination an 'Outrage'
By Rick Pedraza
May 27, 2009

A Bad Day for Impartiality
By Rich Lowry
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor: Racial Politics and Making Policy
By Bobby Eberle
May 27, 2009

Presidents, Senators, and Judicial Philosophy
By Matthew J. Franck
May 27, 2009

Rule of Law, or Rule of Lawyers?
By Andrew C. McCarthy
May 27, 2009

White House’s Misleading Spin on New Haven Firefighters Case
By Ed Whelan
May 27, 2009

10 Questions for a Supreme Court Nominee
By Human Events
May 27, 2009

Apply a Litmus Test to Sotomayor
By Terence P. Jeffrey
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Ruled Fish Must Be Protected from Power Plants Regardless of Cost-Benefit Analysis
By Matt Cover
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor and Hispanic Judges: Doing the Math
By Gary Langer
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Has Sparse Record on Social Issues
By Marie Magleby
May 27, 2009

GOP Senators Express Concern, but Not Opposition, to Sotomayor Nomination
By Fred Lucas
May 27, 2009

Slate: Well, Actually, It Isn’t a Mystery Why Sotomayor Voted Against Ricci
By Steve Sailer
May 27, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor v. Frank Ricci
By Steve Sailer
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor's Court Record: Lame or Controversial?
By Jillian Bandes
May 27, 2009

The Future of Affirmative Action
By Michael Reagan
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor's Fake 'Bipartisan' Street Cred
By Jillian Bandes
May 27, 2009

Questions for Judge Sotomayor: What Are Her "Superprecedents?"
By Hugh Hewitt
May 27, 2009

Racial Re-Segregation Means the End of Democratic Politics
By Ben Shapiro
May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Doesn't Live Up to Obama's Word
By Deborah O'Malley
May 26, 2009

Matthews: Nevermind 'Crazies' Like Limbaugh, Obama 'Wowed Us' with Sotomayor
By Geoffrey Dickens
May 26, 2009

Identity Politics and Sotomayor
By Stuart Taylor
May 23, 2009

Empathy Versus Law
By Walter Williams
May 20, 2009

A Judge's View of Judging Is on the Record
By Charlie Savage
May 14, 2009

Possible Obama Supreme Court Pick Slapped Down Reverse Discrimination Case in One-Paragraph Opinion
By Matt Cover
May 8, 2009

The Case against Sotomayor
By Jeffrey Rosen
May 4, 2009

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Sotomayor's Visual Map
 

  • Former Board of Directors member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Former judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997
  • Supports affirmative action
  • Views America as a nation rife with discrimination against nonwhite minorities
  • Nominated for the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in May 2009; was sworn in as Associate Justice on August 8, 2009



Born in June 1954 to Puerto Rican parents who resided in the Bronx, New York, Sonia Sotomayor earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1976. During her years at Princeton, she joined two campus organizations whose efforts were devoted chiefly to the celebration of nonwhite ethnic identities. She reminisces: “The Puerto Rican group on campus, Acción Puertorriqueña, and the Third World Center provided me with an anchor I needed to ground myself in that new and different world.” In April 1974, during her sophomore year, Sotomayor co-chaired Accion Puertorriquena.

Years later, in 1994, Acción Puertorriqueña, which remains active to this day, lobbied against Proposition 187, a ballot initiative designed to deny social-welfare benefits to illegal aliens in California; it also sponsored a 2003 event focusing on the alleged “inequality” that suppressed Latinos’ “access to higher education … throughout our nation”; and it currently supports increased rights and privileges for illegal immigrants.

The other group to which Sotomayor belonged, Princeton’s Third World Center, was established in 1971 to provide "a social, cultural and political environment that reflects the needs and concerns of students of color at the University”; to remedy the fact that “the University’s cultural and social organizations have largely been shaped by students from families nurtured in the Anglo-American and European traditions”; to acknowledge that “it has not always been easy for students from different backgrounds to enter the mainstream of campus life”; and to teach minority students to “become more sensitive to the consequences of a long history of prejudice and discrimination.”

TWC's constitution and founding documents were steeped in anti-American and anti-white rhetoric. A 1976 TWC document titled “Oppression breeds resistance,” stated: “The history of the peoples of the Third World, who have suffered from U.S. Imperialism, and of the oppressed nationalities within the United States—Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Asians, and Native Americans, has been a history of oppression and resistance.” On one occasion in 1973, TWC brought the Puerto Rican Nationalist and Socialist, Manuel Maldonado-Denis to campus as a guest speaker. “I have come from a colonized country, submitted to cultural assimilation and cultural aggression,” he told the students at TWC. He accused the United States of “dominating,” “fleecing” and “exploiting” Puerto Rico, and said “the only solution” to the problem was “the establishment of national liberation and the establishment of socialism.”

Years later, in November 1984, TWC's board maintained that nonwhite students should have the right to bar whites from its meetings on campus and from its meetings with school administrators. At that time, future First Lady Michelle Obama was a member of the TWC board. The group’s 1984 constitution stated:

“We define the term ‘Third World’ as those nations and people who have fallen victim to the oppression and exploitation of the world economic order. This definition includes the peoples of color in the United States, as they too are victims of a brutal and racist socio-economic structure perpetuated by those who still exploit such groups as Asians, Blacks, and Latinos and who still occupy the homelands of the Puerto Rican, Mexican, Native American, and Alaskan peoples. Therefore, we must seek to understand the historical and contemporary ramifications of oppression we are to liberate ourselves from economic and social chains which bind us.”

During Sotomayor's years at Princeton, she denounced the university's “institutional pattern of discrimination.” Moreover, she filed a complaint with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's New York office demanding that Princeton increase its recruitment of Latino administrators, faculty, and students. She also delivered to the university's president two letters demanding explicit quotas and timetables for such recruitment.

In the May 10, 1974 edition of Princeton's student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, Sotomayor wrote that her university was guilty of "an institutional pattern of discrimination" against Chicanos and Puerto Ricans. She added:

"The facts imply and reflect the total absence of regard, concern and respect for an entire people and their culture. In effect, they reflect an attempt -- a successful attempt so far -- to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to oblivion.... There is not one Puerto Rican or Chicano administrator or faculty member in the university;... [T]here were only 111 Chicano applicants and 27 students on campus this year; Not one permanent course in this university now deals in any notable detail with the Puerto Rican or Chicano cultures."

In her 1976 Princeton yearbook, Sotomayor selected, as her special quotation, the following statement of Norman Thomas, who ran for U.S. president six times on the Socialist Party ticket: "I am not a champion of lost causes, but of causes not yet won."

After graduating from Princeton, Sotomayor earned a Juris Doctor at Yale Law School in 1979. She then took a job as an Assistant District Attorney under New York County DA Robert Morgenthau.

In 1980 Sotomayor became a Board of Directors member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (currently known as LatinoJustice PRLDF), a post she would hold for 12 years. In 1981 Sotomayor was part of a three-person panel that urged PRLDF to oppose the reinstitution of the death penalty in New York State. “Capital punishment is associated with evident racism in our society,” the panel wrote. “It creates inhuman psychological burdens for the offender and his/her family.”

In 1984 Sotomayor left her job at the DA office and launched a private legal practice, subsequently becoming a partner at the commercial litigation firm of Pavia & Harcourt, where she specialized in intellectual-property cases.


In November 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Sotomayor, on the recommendation of Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was confirmed by the Senate in August 1992.

In one of the more high-profile cases over which Sotomayor presided, she issued an order allowing the Wall Street Journal to publish the July 1993 suicide note of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster. In another much-publicized case, in March 1995 she issued the preliminary injunction preventing Major League Baseball from unilaterally implementing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and using replacement players, thereby bringing the 1994 baseball strike to a close.

In the early 1990s, Sotomayor spoke publicly about the role that affirmative action played in her educational background:

"I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am Puerto Rican, born and raised in the south Bronx, and from what is traditionally described as a socio-economically poor background. My test scores were not comparable to that of my colleagues at Princeton or Yale. Not so far off the mark that I wasn't able to succeed at those institutions.... [I]f we had gone through the traditional numbers route of those institutions, it would have been highly questionable whether I would have been accepted with my academic achievement in high school. I was accepted rather readily at Princeton, and equally as fast at Yale. But my test scores were not comparable to that of my classmates, and that's been shown by statistics, there are reasons for that. There are cultural biases built into testing, and that was one of the motivations for the concept of affirmative action, to try to balance out those effects."

On November 7, 1996 Sotomayor delivered a speech to the Third World Center (TWC) titled “The Genesis and Needs of an Ethnic Identity.” Among her remarks to this organization (of which she had been a member during her college years) were the following: “At Princeton, I began a lifelong commitment to identifying myself as a Latina, taking pride in being Hispanic, and in recognizing my obligation to help my community reach its fullest potential in this society. Accion Puertorriquena, the Puerto Rican group on campus then, and the Third World Center … provided me with the anchor I needed to ground myself in this new and different world.” Sotomayor further praised TWC for having “demonstrated and taken over University buildings” as part of their activism.

On June 25, 1997, Sotomayor was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a seat she would hold until May 2009.

From 1998 to 2007, Sotomayor was an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law. She also was a lecturer at Columbia Law School from 1999 to 2009, and she served as a member of Princeton University’s Board of Trustees.

Sotomayor was formerly a Board of Directors member of the Maternity Center Association (now called Childbirth Connection), an organization that “uses research, education and advocacy to improve maternity care for all women and their families.” Childbirth Connection generally views maternity care as the financial responsibility of taxpayer-funded programs dedicated to such objectives as: “establishing early standards for prenatal care and education; fostering the development of childbirth education in the United States; developing and distributing pioneering educational resources for prenatal, childbirth and parent education; and establishing the country’s first nurse-midwifery education program and first urban out-of-hospital birth center providing woman- and family-centered maternity care.”

In 1998 the Family Research Council named Sotomayor as the recipient of its Court Jester Award, mocking her decision to extend the application of the Americans With Disabilities Act to a woman who had cited her own inability to read as the “handicap” that caused her to fail the New York State bar exam several times.

In 2001 Sotomayor gave a speech at UC Berkeley, during which she suggested, approvingly, that making the federal bench more “diverse”—in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual orientation—“will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging.” Refuting the notion that judges should not permit the foregoing personal traits to influence their legal decisions, she said: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she elaborated, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging…. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.” Questioning whether it is “possible in all, or even, in most, cases” for judges to be absolutely impartial, she pondered: “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.” She also expressed agreement with law professors who maintain that “to judge is an exercise of power,” and that “there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives.” At another point in the speech, she said, "We [Latinos] have only 10 out of 147 active circuit court judges and 30 out of 587 active district court judges. Those numbers are grossly below our proportion of the population."

According to a July 2009 Congressional Quarterly report:

“Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested ‘a wise Latina woman’ or ‘wise woman’ judge might ‘reach a better conclusion’ than a male judge. Those speeches … suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a ‘wise Latina’ judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy court case over which Sotomayor has presided was a 2004 lawsuit filed by Frank Ricci, a white New Haven, Connecticut firefighter who, the previous year, had scored very well on the test which his local fire department administered in order to determine who should be promoted to such positions as lieutenant and captain. But when it was revealed that black firefighters, on average, had performed quite poorly on that test, the city of New Haven, reasoning that the exam itself must have been racially biased, mandated that the test results be discarded and that no promotions be granted that year to anyone. In response, Ricci and 17 fellow firefighters (16 whites and 1 Hispanic) filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit -- which was argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit -- contending that they had been wrongfully denied promotions they deserved. That panel, which included Sotomayor, upheld New Haven’s decision to dismiss the test results.

Four years later, all 13 members (including Sotomayor) of the same Appeals Court presided over a retrial of the Ricci case. They likewise agreed, this time by a 7-6 margin, that the firefighters' test was invalid. Six of the seven judges to rule that way were, like Sotomayor, Bill Clinton appointees.

On both a personal and professional level, Sotomayor has long placed a great emphasis on ethnic identity (and on the presumed victim status of nonwhite minorities). By her own telling, she has never fully shed her personal sense of being an outsider looking in on American society:

  • “The differences from the larger society and the problems I faced as a Latina woman didn't disappear when I left Princeton. I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of any of the worlds I inhabit.”
  • “As accomplished as I have been in my professional settings, I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up and am always concerned that I have to work harder to succeed.”

A member of the National Council of La Raza, Sotomayor describes Latinos as one of America’s “economically deprived populations” which, like “all minority and women’s groups,” are filled with people “who don’t make it in our society at all.” Attributing those failures to inequities inherent in American life, she affirms her commitment to “serving the underprivileged of our society” by promoting affirmative action and other policies designed to help those who “face enormous challenges.” Moreover, she identifies “human rights” and “civil liberties” as topics that need to “permeate our societal discussions.”

Sotomayor penned the Foreword to the 2007 bookThe International Judge, where she said that American judges should try to “learn from foreign law and the international community when interpreting our Constitution.” She also stressed the importance of having judges “learn from international courts and from their male and female judges about the process of judging and the factors outside of the law that influence our decisions.” According to the journal Foreign Policy, Sotomayor believes that judges should make an effort to consider foreign case law whenever applicable to their rulings.

The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) reports that Sotomayor is an advocate of Legal Realism, “a judicial philosophy that permits judges to ignore the U.S. Constitution and laws in their rulings,” and which is “diametrically opposed to the concept of strict construction/originalism as advocated by conservative legal thinkers and judges.” Adds TVC:

“Legal Realism is a philosophy developed by Judge Jerome Frank in his 1930 book, Law And The Modern Mind.

“Frank taught that the law changes along with the circumstances and the concerns of the judges applying it. He argued that judges should do more than interpret the law or look to the original intent of the writers of the law or the Constitution. Judges should bring in outside influences from social sciences, psychology and politics, plus their own views, to craft the law….

“Judge Sotomayor drank deeply from his philosophy. She described Legal Realism in her 1996 lecture at Suffolk University Law School. She stated that the public wrongly expects ‘the law to be static and predictable,’ but points out that courts and lawyers are ‘constantly overhauling the laws and adapting it to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial and political conditions.’”

In a 2008 case known as Doe v. Mukasey, Sotomayor ruled that FBI "national-security letters" asking electronic-communications service providers to furnish the Bureau with the records of a criminal or terrorist suspect, violated the First Amendment.

In a January 2009 Second Circuit case known as Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor ruled that states are not required to obey the Second Amendment’s mandate that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The opinion which she signed stated that "the Second Amendment ... is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state.”

In May 2009 a video surfaced of Sotomayor speaking at a 2005 panel discussion for law students. In that video, she said that a “court of appeals is where policy is made”—a candid rejection of the notion that a judge's proper role is to interpret the law rather than to create it. Then, remembering that the event was being recorded, Sotomayor added immediately: “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know.”

On May 26, 2009, a few weeks after Supreme Court Justice David Souter had announced that he would soon retire, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to replace Souter.

According to a CNS News report, Sotomayor, during her Senate confirmation hearings in July 2009, had the following exchange with Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma:

When [Coburn] asked ... whether citizens have a right to self-defense, ... Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I don’t know.” 
 
Coburn had asked, “As a citizen of this country, do you believe innately in my ability to have self-defense of myself – personal self-defense? Do I have a right to personal self-defense?”
 
In reply, Sotomayor said that, “I’m trying to think if I remember a case where the Supreme Court has addressed that particular question. Is there a constitutional right to self-defense? And I can’t think of one. I could be wrong, but I can’t think of one.” She then went on to explain that self-defense rights are usually defined by state law.
 
Unsatisfied, Coburn continued, “But do you have an opinion, of whether or not in this country I personally, as an individual citizen, have a right to self-defense?”
 
Sotomayor responded, “I -- as I said, I don’t know.” 
 
Later in the exchange, Coburn said, “I wasn’t asking about the legal question. I’m asking your personal opinion.” 
 
“But that is an abstract question with no particular meaning to me,” Sotomayor replied.

Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 28, 2009; was confirmed by the full Senate (by a 68-31 vote, with 9 Republicans voting in favor) on August 6, 2009; and was sworn in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on August 8, 2009.

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court (in a 5-4 decision) overturmed this aspect of McCain-Feigold in a case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court ruling overturned two precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, a 2003 decision that upheld the portion of McCain-Feingold that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions. Sotomayor voted with the minority in the 2010 case.

In February 2013, Sotomayor lamented what she described as "a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation."

During a talk she gave at Yale Law School in February 2014, Sotomayor was asked about her use of the term “undocumented immigrants” to describe those who are sometimes called "illegal aliens." Asserting that the labeling of some immigrants as criminals seemed insulting to her, Sotomayor said: “I think people then paint those individuals as something less than worthy human beings and it changes the conversation.”

 

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