Judge Sonia Sotomayor is not shying away from emphasizing the variety of her life experiences, even as conservative critics target the idea that she allows those experiences to unduly influence her rulings.
In her first comments as a Supreme Court choice, Sotomayor this morning talked about growing up in a housing project in the Bronx and attending Catholic school and two Ivy League universities. She contrasted her work as a state prosecutor and as a lawyer in private practice focused on commercial litigation. And she described her time as a federal trial judge and as an appellate judge.
“This wealth of experience — personally and professionally — has helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear,” Sotomayor said. She added, “I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on businesses, individuals, and government.”
Her comments match the statements that President Barack Obama has made in recent weeks about whom he would like to see on the Supreme Court. In response, conservatives have been combing over past writings and speeches from Sotomayor on the impact of a judge’s background, questioning whether she has been dispassionate enough as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Sotomayor said today that she expects her experience to be a focal point of the confirmation process, and she welcomed the debate. “I hope that as the Senate and the American people learn more about me, they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences,” she said.
Yet she also praised the Founding Fathers and the principles of the Constitution. “It would be a profound privilege for me to play a role in applying those principles to the controversies and questions of today,” she said.