SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican judicial leaders, politicians, economists and workers on Tuesday began a campaign supporting the nomination of federal appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The president of the Puerto Rican bar association, Arturo Hernandez, emphasized that Sotomayor, 54, should be included on the highest U.S. court “for her academic (and) professional record, (her) intellect and extraordinary ability.”
Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents and raised in a South Bronx housing project, Sonia Sotomayor won a scholarship to Princeton, graduating summa cum laude in 1976 before going on to Yale Law School.
She was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for five years before joining a private law firm. President George H.W. Bush nominated her for a federal district judgeship in 1991, and Bill Clinton named her to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals six years later.
Sotomayor, President Barack Obama said last month when announcing her nomination, “would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.”
It is taken for granted that she will be confirmed to succeed departing Justice David Souter, but supporters fear delaying tactics will be tried by Republicans and other conservative groups.
Some of her detractors have expressed fears that the judge, who has mentioned her pride at being Latino on different occasions, really harbors hidden “racist” sentiments toward Anglo whites.
If confirmed, Sotomayor would become the first Hispanic – and only the third woman – to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Senate hearings on her nomination are set to begin July 13.
The head of the Puerto Rico branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Haydee Rivera, said that Sotomayor is “a model to follow both on the personal and professional level” and that the door to the high court should be opened to her.
In addition, the former speaker of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Jose Aponte Hernandez, said that Sotomayor “has identified herself as Hispanic” and deserves for that community to support her.
“Are we going to remain as spectators ...? We have to back her nomination and take a message to the federal Senate,” he said.
“We believe the time has come for there to be people identified as Hispanics on our highest judicial forum. We have to look to where we want to go,” he said.
The former president of the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico, Jose Julian Alvarez, said that Sotomayor “has all the qualities” to be chosen for the U.S. Supreme Court.
“She has the experience that a high (judicial) forum needs and (the ability to) decide difficult issues,” and she is an “impeccable and upright” person,” he emphasized. EFE