Among many others, Latinas and Puerto Rican communities celebrated around the globe as Sonia María Sotomayor was sworn in yesterday as the first Hispanic, and the third woman, to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the Judicial Oath in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor, a federal judge for 17 years, becomes the 111th Supreme Court Justice. President Barack Obama nominated her in May, and the Senate confirmed Sotomayor’s nomination Thursday by a 68-31 vote.
In a private ceremony in the justices’ conference room, Roberts administered an oath that the Constitution requires of all federal officials, to “support and defend” the Constitution. Then, in a public ceremony, he gave Sotomayor a second oath in which she pledged to “administer justice” fairly and impartially, as prescribed by a 220-year-old federal law.
Sotomayor is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a housing project in New York City’s gritty South Bronx neighborhood. She was educated at the elite universities Princeton and Yale before going on to success in the legal profession and then the federal bench. As The Washington Post affirms, “The moment will be remembered above all as a triumph for Justice Sotomayor, who refused to let financially humble beginnings define or restrict her in any way. She comes to the high court with as well-rounded a résumé as any justice of the past century: Princeton undergrad, Yale Law, prosecutor, corporate litigator, trial court judge, and appeals court jurist.” Judge Sotomayor credits her mother, Celina Sotomayor, for her own success. “I am all I am because of her,” Judge Sotomayor said, “and I am only half the woman she is.”