Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay about Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Written for HIS 303: The American Constitution.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor



Justice Sonia Sotomayor grew up in a poor family in New York, with one brother, Juan (Lewis, 2010).  Both of her parents worked at low-paying jobs until her father died, when she was nine years old, after which her mother "worked hard to raise the children as a single parent" (Sonia Sotomayor Biography, 2009, para. 3).  Sotomayor "excelled in school" (Lewis, 2010, para. 9), "graduat[ing] as valedictorian of her class at Blessed Sacrament and Cardinal Spellman High School in New York" (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, para. 7), and "graduat[ing] summa cum laude from Princeton in 1976" (Sonia Sotomayor Biography, 2009, para. 5), then "earn[ing] a law degree from Yale Law School in 1979" (Lewis, 2010, para. 9).  Sotomayor's mother stressed the importance of reading and education, and worked hard to provide her children the materials they needed for a good education.

Justice Sotomayor served as a trial lawyer in the district attorney's office in Manhattan, New York, after passing the bar in 1980, and later went into private practice of law, where she did pro bono work for several agencies (Sonia Sotomayor Biography, 2009).  Sotomayor was

[N]ominated by George H.W. Bush on November 27, 1991, to serve as a federal judge, and she was confirmed by the Senate on August 11 of 1992.  She was nominated on June 25, 1997, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, by President William J. Clinton, and was confirmed by the Senate on October 2, 1998.  (Lewis, 2010, para. 11)

"President Barack Obama nominated [Sotomayor] as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role on August 8, 2009" (Justices of the Supreme Court, n.d., para. 9).

Justice Sotomayor is known as "a sharp and fearless jurist who does not let powerful interests bully her into departing from the rule of law" (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, para. 12).  In addition, Justice Sotomayor "understands that upholding the rule of law means going beyond legal theory to ensure consistent, fair, common-sense application of the law to real-world facts" (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, para. 14).

Justice Sotomayor is firm in her support of the Constitution, and in her refusal to bypass constitutional law in her interpretation of the law.  She continues to emphasize the importance of education, operating a summer youth program for students in inner city high schools to learn about the practice of law.  She has a strong commitment to family.  She believes in giving back to her community, and has served with several organizations, including the second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009).

In a White House press release on May 26, 2009, the day she was appointed by President Obama, Justice Sotomayor was identified as "the only Justice with experience as a trial judge" (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, para. 3), and the press release goes on to emphasize the importance of the fact that "[s]ince joining the Second Circuit, Sotomayor has honored the Constitution, the rule of law, and justice, often forging consensus and winning conservative colleagues to her point of view" (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 2009, para. 140.



Judge Sonia Sotomayor.  (2009, May 26).  Retrieved March 9, 2010, from the White House      Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/background-on-judge-Sonia-          Sotomayor/

Justices of the Supreme Court, The.  (n.d.).  Retrieved March 9, 2010, from           http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/biographiescurrent.pdf

Lewis, J.J.  (2010).  Sonia Sotomayor Biography.  Retrieved March 9, 2010, from           http://womenshistory.about.com/od/publicofficials/p/sotomayor.htm?p=1

Sonia Sotomayor Biography.  (2009).  Retrieved March 9, 2010, from   http://www.biography.com/articles/Sonia-Sotomayor-453906?print

© 2017 Debbie Barry

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Debbie Barry
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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, American government, supreme court

A Journey through My College Papers


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..