Sonia Sotomayor

The First Hispanic Supreme Court Judge in the U.S.


Name: Sonia María Sotomayor.
Birth date: June 25, 1954.
Birthplace: Bronx, New York.
Breakthrough: Becoming a Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge.

Sonia Sotomayor became the third woman and the first Latina to sit on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. That accomplishment indeed, went a long way from her humble beginnings.

Born to Puerto Rican parents who came here to find the American dream, Sonia lived as a young girl in The Bronxdale housing project with her parents and her brother Juan.

Sotomayor’s family lived with a modest income, with her father Juan being a tool and die worker while her mother Celina was a methadone clinic nurse.

When Sotomayor was just nine years old, her father died leaving her mother to fend for their needs. Working two jobs, she still managed to buy the only encyclopedia set in the neighborhood for her children. Believing that education can set them free from poverty, her mother encouraged them to excel in school.

In an article for Latina Magazine, Sandra Guzman a personal friend of Sonia’s, reveals that Sonia’s interests in law began by reading Nancy Drew books.

Her keen interest in law was deeply instilled after watching an episode of Perry Mason. With the judge’s face focused on the camera, Sotomayor realized that the judge plays the most important role in the courtroom. It was then she realized that she wanted to be a judge one day.

This famous Hispanic woman graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School and completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton University in 1976. She graduated summa cum laude and received the highest honor Princeton can bestow to its undergraduate students – The M. Taylor Pyne Prize.

She earned her law degree in 1979 from Yale University where she became the editor of the Yale University Law Review and managing director in World Public Order.

After her graduation and until 1984, Sonia Sotomayor worked as a prosecutor under Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. She went to private practice as an associate, and later as a partner of the Pavia and Harcourt Law Office in New York City until 1992.

She gave up private practice after she was confirmed as a federal judge by the senate on the 11th of August 1992 through the nomination of then President George H.W. Bush.

On June 25, 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor for a seat on the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals but received confirmation after more than a year. The Republican-led senate reportedly feared that she might be considered for the Supreme Court someday, how ironic. However, she was finally confirmed by the senate through a 68-28 vote on October 2, 1998.

She worked as a professor at New York University School of Law from 1998 to 2007 and is a lecturer at Columbia University Law School since 1999.

With her sheer talent and strength of character, she overcame the adversities of her growing up years. The fulfillment of the American dream came when President Barack Obama nominated her and became the 111th justice of the United States Supreme Court in August 2009.

At the day of the White House reception to celebrate her appointment, Sonia showed President Obama her red-flashy nails and her black semi-hoop earrings, he chuckling told her she had been briefed on the color of her nails and the size of her earrings to what she replied: “Mr. President you have no idea what you have unleashed.”


  1. This article was very helpful, but can someone tell me where her parents are from? Please?

Speak Your Mind