This morning President Barack Obama nominated New York Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. If approved, Sotomayor would become the first Hispanic to the high court.

A Republican president, George H.W. Bush, first appointed Sotomayor to the district court of Southern New York. She became the first Puerto Rican judge on that court.

Saying he was looking for a ‘towering intellect’ and a ‘common touch,’ Obama gave a brief history of Sotomayor’s biography.

Born in New York,* Sotomayor grew up in a South Bronx housing project near Yankee Stadium. Her father, a factory worker, died when she was nine years old. Her mother, a nurse, worked and put Sotomayor and her brother through school. Her brother became a doctor, while Sotomayor became a lawyer graduating at the top of her class in both Princeton and Yale.

That’s the kind of American story that the Obama presidency has consistently highlighted.

One of Sotomayor’s most famous decision was during the 1994-95 baseball strike. She issued an injunction in favor of the players by barring ‘replacements’ (i.e. scabs) and helped bring the strike to an early end.

‘Some say she saved baseball,’ Obama said.

In accepting her nomination, she said it was most ‘humbling’ and gave great credit to her mother.

The Republicans and ultra-conservatives have tried to galvanize their base to block any nomination of the president’s. Seeing a chance for fundraising and political points, filibusters and other blocking tactics are being projected.

Nominating the first Latino/a and only third woman to the high court is a huge and historic move, commentators have said. Sotomayor brings a wealth of legal experience including working as a prosecutor and in private practice. Sotomayor is now a judge on the Court of Appeals.

Commentators say the historic nature of the nomination, plus Sotomayor’s experience and life story will make it very hard for Republicans to block her.

One area there is expectation of a fight is on affirmative action. White New Haven fire fighters brought suit against the city charging ‘reverse discrimination’ because the city threw out a promotional test because no African Americans or Latinos scored high enough. Sotomayor supported the opinion upholding the city’s decision. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court.

*CORRECTION: In an earlier version of the story we reported that Judge Sotomayor was born in Puerto Rico, based on various incorrect media reports. We regret the error.


Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People’s World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW’s social media presence. Albano had been a staff writer for People’s World covering political, labor, and social justice issues for more than 25 years. She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, including India, Cuba, Angola, Italy, and Paris to cover the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. An award-winning journalist, Albano has been honored for her writing by the International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women, and Illinois Woman Press Association.