The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court of the land. “Supreme Court decisions help shape the law of the land” (Winter, 2009). The Supreme Court of the United States is composed of 9 Justices. The United States Supreme Court ensures that the President of the United States, Congress, and state governments are adhering to the articles of the United States Constitution. “The Supreme Court has original, or trial, jurisdiction only in rare instances (set forth in Article III, Section2, of the Constitution). Only rarely does a case originate at the Supreme Court level.
Most of the Court’s work is as an appellate court. It has appellate authority over cases decided by the U. S. courts of appeals, as well as over some cases decided in the state courts when federal questions are at issue” (Gaines & Miller, 2017). If a case reaches the United States Supreme Court the rulings are the final judgements. Justices of the United States Supreme Court are nominated by the President of the United States and Senate must approve the nomination. For one to become a Justice of the United States Supreme Court there are no official qualifications.
Such as age, citizenship, education, etc. United States Supreme Court Justices hold their office as long as they choose unless they are impeached. Currently all 9 Supreme Court Justice Seats are filled. There are 6 men and 3 women currently serving as United States Supreme Court Justices. John G. Roberts, Jr currently serves as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, Jr, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil M. Gorsuch currently serve as Associate Justices of the United States Supreme Court.
This paper is intended to explore the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and accomplishments she have made while serving as a Supreme Court Judge. Sonia Sotomayor was born in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954 to Juan and Celina Sotomayor. Juan and Celina Sotomayor were from Puerto Rico however migrated to the United States. Juan was a factory worker and Celina was a switchboard operator at a private hospital in the Bronx. Sonia Sotomayor’s childhood wasn’t a bed of roses. It is said that Sotomayor’s father was a heavy drinker. At the age of 9 she lost her father.
Sotomayor’s reflection of the day her father passed “As I looked out the window, a memory came to me of something that happened the day Papi died, which l’d almost forgotten in all the commotion that followed. I was down in the school yard at recess, standing by the fence, looking this way towards the projects and I thought about him. It wasn’t a normal thought that pops into your head or one that’s connected to the thought that came before it. More of a feeling than a thought, but almost not even a feeling, like the barest shadow of a mood assing over, or a breeze so perfectly soft that nothing moves. idn’t know yet what had happened, but maybe that was Papi himself saying goodbye” (Sotomayor, 2013).
After Sotomayor’s father passed away her mother continued to work day and night to ensure that she and her brother Juan Luis needs were met. At a very young age Sotomayor showed interest in mystery novels. Nancy Drew novels were her favorite and Sotomayor wanted to be just like her. However at the early age of 8 Sotomayor was diagnosed with diabetes which changed her thoughts of wanting to be a detective. After many episodes of Perry Mason, Sotomayor came to the conclusion that she would pursue becoming a judge.
Sotomayor graduated at the top of her high school graduating class and was accepted into Princeton University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1976. As Sotomayor was embarking into law school she married her high school boyfriend Kevin Noonan. Sotomayor and Noonan were married for seven year and later divorced. In 1979 Sotomayor earned her law degree from Yale Law School. “From 1979 to 1984, Sotomayor was an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s office. She hen moved to the private sector, where she litigated international commercial matters at a prominent law firm.
She rose to become a partner in the firm” (Scholastic). Sotomayor served for seven years on the United Stated District Court, of New York she also served on the United States Court of Appeals as a judge. Sotomayor also served as an educator at Columbia and New York law school. In 2009, Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to be a Supreme Court Justice. “Sotomayor became the Court’s 111th Justice, the first Hispanic Justice and third woman to serve in the United States Supreme Court” (MyHero, 2010). On Friday June 26th, 2015 Sotomayor contributed to the majority Supreme Court ruling regarding same sex marriage in all 50 states.
The majority opinion read “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” Kennedy wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death” (Washington Post, 2015). Sotomayor’s contribution owards this ruling makes a historic moment in the United States as the debate around same sex marriage date back centuries ago. Sonia Sotomayor is a true pioneer for the Latino community.
Sotomayor’s odds were against her as a little girl however she didn’t allow the hand she had been dealt to determine her destination. Sotomayor faced many adversities however she never gave up. Today Sotomayor is known for being a very outspoken and straight forward Justice. Sotomayor have been criticized for being a racist and she’s known for being firm with awyers. Sotomayor’s’ expectations of lawyers are high. She expect lawyers to be prepared when they come in front of her. Sotomayor is known for her trust in the judicial process despite her upfront attitude.
In a 2001 speech Sotomayor stated “Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must ot deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage, but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate” (Stolberg, 2009).
In conclusion, Sonia Sotomayor’s story is remarkable. Not only does she set the bar high for Latino’s and minorities but I respect her contributions from a woman’s perspective. Sotomayor has proven that as a woman we can do anything we are passionate about despite our race, ethnicity and social status. Sonia Sotomayor’s success reminds me of a novel I read itled Unequal Childhoods Class, Race and Family Life as most of the families mentioned in the novel came from totally different walks of life and had different outlooks for their children.
Although Sotomayor grew up in the impoverish Bronx of New York her mother set very high standards for her and her brother. I want to believe that Sotomayor’s mother practiced the natural growth model as she provided her children with love and allowed them to spread their wings and fly. I believe that Sonia Sotomayor has more great work to do as she continues to serve as United States Supreme Court Justice.