President Obama hit a home run with his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court -- and not just because she's the "woman who saved baseball" by ending the strike in 1995, nor simply because she would be the first Latina ever to serve on the high court.
It was a home run because in her three-decade career as a prosecutor, judge, private litigator and law professor, she has time and again earned bipartisan praise as one of America's finest legal minds. And it was the right choice because Judge Sotomayor -- herself born and raised in a South Bronx housing project -- has summed up the American dream in her own incredible story and never once forgotten how the law affects our daily lives.
Now her historic nomination goes to the Senate. I know that process well, and I can tell you that the debate of the coming weeks and months will be shaped by the public response in the next few hours and days. It's critical that the Senate and the public clearly see where the American people stand.
I've followed Judge Sotomayor's remarkable journey for years. I voted for her when President George H.W. Bush nominated her for the District Court in 1992, and I was proud to vote for her again when President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.
Born to a Puerto Rican family, Sotomayor grew up in a public housing project in the South Bronx. She was an avid reader from an early age, and was first inspired to pursue a legal career by the Nancy Drew mystery novels. Driven by her mother's belief in the power of education and her own relentless work ethic, she excelled in school. She won a scholarship to Princeton University, graduated summa cum laude, and then went on to attend Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the prestigious Yale Law Journal.
Like President Obama, Sotomayor passed up many more lucrative opportunities after law school to put her degree to work for the public good. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, tackling some of the hardest cases facing the city, including robberies, assaults, murders, police brutality, and child pornography. Her growing reputation for fearlessness and legal brilliance prompted her first nomination to the federal bench, and she's only continued to soar.
If confirmed, she would start with more federal judicial experience than any Justice in a century, more overall judicial experience than any Justice in 70 years, and replace David Souter as the only Justice with firsthand experience as a trial judge. She has participated in over 3,000 panel decisions and authored roughly 400 opinions, expertly handling difficult issues of constitutional law, complicated procedural matters, and lawsuits involving complex business organizations.
In her years on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has earned acclaim from legal scholars and experts from both sides of the aisle for her intellectual toughness, her probing oral questioning, and her ability to issue decisions that hold both factual details and legal doctrines in equal measure. And she's never failed to apply a steady, common-sense analysis of how the law touches our daily lives.
Her story is incredible. Her qualifications are undeniable. And her judgment will serve us all well on the highest court in the land.
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