Who Is Sonia Sotomayor?

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Sonia Sotomayor is an American lawyer and jurist who currently serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was born on June 25, 1954, in the Bronx, New York City, to Puerto Rican parents. Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School, and she worked as a lawyer and judge before being nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2009. She is the first Hispanic and Latina justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is known for her liberal-leaning views and her commitment to justice and equal rights.

In Wonderopolis, we have gained knowledge about the U.S. government. You might be aware of the requirements to be president. Maybe you have studied the concept of checks and balances. You might have even read about the reason behind having nine justices on the Supreme Court. Today’s Wonder of the Day focuses on one individual who is a member of that court – Justice Sonia Sotomayor!

So, who exactly is Sonia Sotomayor? She was born on June 25, 1954. Her father, Juan Sotomayor, worked as a laborer while her mother, Celina Baez, was a nurse. Both of Sotomayor’s parents were born in Puerto Rico and later moved to New York.

Sotomayor was born and raised in the Bronx area of New York City. Her father passed away when she was nine years old. After his death, Sotomayor’s mother worked long hours to support the family. During her upbringing, the family resided in a public housing project. Both Sotomayor and her brother followed their mother’s example of hard work.

While in school, Sotomayor excelled academically. She was also an enthusiastic reader, with a particular fondness for Nancy Drew books. However, after watching the TV show “Perry Mason,” Sotomayor knew that she wanted to pursue a career in law. She was determined to become a lawyer one day.

With this goal in mind, Sotomayor worked hard during her high school years. At the same time, she was also learning to manage her juvenile diabetes, which she was diagnosed with. In 1972, she graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School and went on to attend Princeton University.

During her time at Princeton, Sotomayor dedicated herself to her studies. She also connected with other students of Puerto Rican heritage through various student groups on campus. In 1976, she graduated summa cum laude and received the Pyne Prize, the highest academic award for undergraduates at the university.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Sotomayor enrolled in Yale Law School. She became the editor of the Yale Law Journal and co-chaired the Latin American and Native American Students Association. In 1979, she graduated from Yale and passed the New York bar exam the following year.

At the beginning of her career, Sotomayor worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. In this role, she proved herself to be a capable and hard-working lawyer. She handled numerous cases involving assault, murder, police brutality, and child abuse.

Later on, Sotomayor joined a private law firm where she specialized in intellectual property law. She also took on pro bono cases. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to become a U.S. District Court judge.

In 1995, Sotomayor presided over the trial related to the 1994-1995 Major League Baseball (MLB) strike. As the judge in the case, she listened to arguments from both sides. On March 31, 1995, she reinstated the terms of the previous labor agreement, just in time for MLB’s opening day. This earned her the reputation as the judge who “saved baseball.”

Sotomayor’s career continued to advance. In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated her to join the U.S. Court of Appeals. Then, in 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her for the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 6, 2009, she was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 68-31.

Sonia Sotomayor made history as the first Hispanic person and the third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 2009, Justice Sotomayor has been a staunch advocate for equal rights and has worked to protect the rights of defendants. She has played a significant role in several important legal cases.

Aside from her legal career, Sotomayor has also written multiple books. Her memoir, “My Beloved World,” chronicles her life up until 1992. Additionally, she has published several children’s books, such as “Just Ask!” and “Just Help!” These books are available in both English and Spanish.

If you aspire to sit on the Supreme Court one day, remember that with determination and hard work, anything is possible, just like Sonia Sotomayor!

Try It Out

To further expand your knowledge, enlist the help of a friend or family member for the following activities:

– Explore an article about Sonia Sotomayor’s achievements and discuss with your companion what qualities make her a candidate acceptable to different groups. Consider her accomplishments and life experiences that contribute to her appeal.

– Reflect on whether Sonia Sotomayor’s Hispanic heritage has influenced her work in the legal profession. Write a couple of paragraphs explaining how a person’s heritage can shape their career perspective. Share your thoughts with a friend or family member.

– Take a look at the activity packet provided by the U.S. Supreme Court. After reviewing the examples, try the activity on page seven, which involves creating symbols that represent law and justice.

Wonder Sources

For additional information, visit the following sources:

– https://www.oyez.org/justices/sonia_sotomayor (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://supremecourthistory.org/justice-sonia-sotomayor/ (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://www.biography.com/law-figure/sonia-sotomayor (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/background-judge-sonia-sotomayor (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/sonia-sotomayor (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/drawing-justice-courtroom-illustrations/about-this-exhibition/the-us-supreme-court/sonia-sotomayor-saves-baseball/ (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

– https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 15 Mar. 2022)

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