Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Mieography

Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born in the Bronx. Her parents, Juan and Celina, were native Puerto Ricans. They had left Puerto Rico, and met when Celina served in the Women's Army Corps. Juan had a third grade education, and did not speak english. She has one brother, Juan, who is a physician, and university professor at Syracuse.

She grew up in the South Bronx area, where most of the other Puerto Ricans settled, and self identifies herself as a "Nuyorican". She was raised Catholic, and, due to the close proximity to the stadium, she is also a lifelong NY Yankees fan. Her family regularly visited Puerto Rico during the summer.
At eight years old, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. (Insulin dependent). Her father died, when she was nine. After all this happened, she became fluent in English, saying she was inspired by the the Nancy Drew books. She wanted to be a detective, like the character, but her diabetes doctor encouraged her to pick a different career. ( I don't really understand why, one can be a diabetic detective...). Anyhow. She was also inspired by Perry Mason, on the television, so she chose a legal career. She chose this at age ten.
By this time, the family was living in the "projects". Her mother, putting importance on education for her children, saved enough money to buy them the Encyclopedia Britannica. Sonia went to parochial school, for grade school, and graduated valedictorian. Though she was underage, she also worked at a local retail store, and a hospital. She continued with Parochial school for high school. The project they were living in, however, became rife with gang members, crime, and heroin use, and the family was forced to leave, moving to the Northeast bronx. Sonia continued on, she was on the forensics team, and in the student government in high school, and, once again, graduated valedictorian. She won a full scholarship to Princeton.
Going to Princeton, after having being raised in the Bronx, she relates she felt like a visitor landing in a foreign country". She spent long hours at the library, making up for deficiencies in the classics, her writing, and vocabulary. She spent summers there, as well, worked with a professor outside of class, with her strong desire to succeed in college. She became a moderate student activist, and was co-chair of an organization that assisted Puerto Rican students. She also worked in the admissions office, frequently going to high schools to find prospects. She lobbied extensively for the university to hire a Latino professor, and offer classes related to their culture. (There were neither at Princeton, as of yet). Eventually, both of those arrived at Princeton. (it did take a few years..). If she wasn't busy enough, she also ran an after school program for local kids, volunteered as an interpreter for the Latino patients at a nearby psychiatric hospital, and served on numerous committee's at Princeton. Oh yeah. And she went to college. Earning mostly A's, as a history major. As a senior, she was awarded the top award for undergrads. She graduated from Princeton, summa cum laude. Just after graduation, she married her high school sweetheart, Kevin Noonan, a biologist and patent lawyer. Then, she entered Yale Law School on a full scholarship. She became editor of the Yale Law journal, ad a few other publications. She continued her work with organizations for minority students, and kept her grades up. She was awarded her J.D., and admitted to the NY bar in 1980.
Her first job was as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting many caseloads, given no time to be nervous in front of a judge. NYC was completely overburdened with cases at this time. She prosecuted everything from prostitution to murder. She gained a reputation for being driven, prepared, and fair. She and her husband divorced, amicably, while she was doing this job, and she admits that she did, (like most who do that job), suffer burn out from it. She moved on to private practice, joining a practice where her focus was intellectual property litigation, international law, and arbitration. Her clients were mostly international corporations doing business in the U.S. She spent a lot of time tracking down, and suing conterfeiters, mostly Fendi. She also had her own solo practice, run out of her apartment.
And because she needed MORE to do, she also served on numerous boards in NYC, like the Mortgage Agency, and the the Campaign Finance Board, just to name a few.
In 1991, she was recommended to a judicial post. She gained a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, officially. She got unanimous approval for her seat. She was the youngest judge in the Southern District. (not bad for a little girl who loved Perry Mason). She was the first Puerto Rican judge to serve in the federal court. She stayed there until she was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This time, her nomination hearings were not as smooth. Rush Limbaugh tagged her as a "ultraliberal on a rocket ship to the highest court". The Republicans tried to block her. After a nomination that pended over a year, she was finally confirmed, by a 67-29 vote. Since then, she as heard appeals in more than 3000 cases, and written over 300 opinions.
Now, this mieography is very long, I realize. I have chosen not to make it longer by inserting information about her rulings as a judge, or, politics that she is involved in (much) . I merely chose to do her because I really knew nothing about her, but figured she had to be a strong lady, to even be NOMINATED for a position to the supreme court. I think I was right. After reading lots of material about her, I think she would be a good, fair judge. Let's see what happens, huh?


Mimi said...

I think she's a fantastic nomination, and very worthy of a Friday Mieography!

Daryl said...

Another Bronx girl here ... and proud of her and what sort of example she can set.