With this week’s news of Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s retirement, there’s been speculation about whom Obama will pick to replace the liberal judge. Pundits believe the nominee will most likely be a woman or Latino–or perhaps both!–which is why University trustee Sonia Sotomayor ’76, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has consistently been mentioned as a shortlist candidate. In fact, some say she is currently the frontrunner.
Sotomayor’s name has been floating around for a while. She’s currently a federal appeals court judge in New York and is well liked by liberal public-interest groups, though she’s considered to be a centrist. In fact, she was first appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush. Her highest-profile case, to date, is probably her 1995 decision that finally ended the Major League Baseball strike.
She’s also crazy smart. At Princeton, Sotomayor was a history major and graduated summa cum laude. Her thesis was on Luis Muñoz Marín, the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. She went on to gradaute from Yale Law, where she was an editor for the Yale Law Journal.
Credentials aside, Sotomayor has a compelling life story. She grew up in a Bronx housing project, and her father died when she was nine years-old. Her single mother raised her and her younger brother by working as a nurse in a methadone clinic.
In 2001, Princeton awarded her an honorary degree, and she became a University trustee in 2007. If nominated, Sotomayor would be only the third woman and first Latino Supreme Court justice. She would also be the second Princetonian to currently sit on the Supreme Court, the other being Justice Samuel Alito ’72.