Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand praised President Barack Obama’s historic move to select Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Earlier this month, Senators Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer sent a personal letter to President Obama recommending that he appoint Judge Sotomayor to serve as the first Latino on the nation’s highest court.
“I spoke with President Obama this morning and told him that he had made a historic and fantastic decision,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In Judge Sotomayor, we have a superbly qualified jurist, who understands, respects, and connects with the people whose lives will be affected by the Court. Judge Sotomayor will bring invaluable experience and much needed diversity to our nation’s highest court. I look forward to a respectful and swift confirmation process in which Congress and the American people can learn more about Judge Sotomayor’s phenomenal qualifications.”
The text of the Senators’ letter to President Obama is included below:
May 1, 2009
Dear Mr. President,
We write to bring your attention to the shortage of representation of Latinos in the Federal Judiciary and strongly urge you to consider the Latino legal community when deciding your first appointment to the United States Supreme Court should a vacancy occur during your presidency.
We are firm believers that legal excellence, moderation, and diversity should be taken into account when nominating judges to ensure that the federal bench is truly representative of our society. Latinos are a large and growing segment of our society that have gone grossly underrepresented in our legal system. Indeed, while Latinos comprise around 15 percent of the population, only about 7 percent of federal judges are Latino. Moreover, not a single Latino has served on the United States Supreme Court in the history of our country.
There are, of course, many excellent and qualified Latino candidates, but we commend to your attention two in particular who we believe would be exceptional Supreme Court Justices should a vacancy arise: Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Both of these individuals are legally excellent, ideologically moderate, and would add diversity to the Court.
From within the judicial sphere, Judge Sotomayor would make an excellent selection. She has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant, and since 1998, has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, one of the most important Circuits in the nation. Nominated by former President Clinton, Judge Sotomayor received broad bipartisan support in the Senate. Before her appointment to the Second Circuit, she served as a District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York – a position for which she was nominated by former President George H.W. Bush and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Even prior to her tenure on the federal bench, Judge Sotomayor demonstrated her commitment to public service and the rule of law by working as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
From outside of the judicial sphere, Interior Secretary Salazar would make a highly-regarded choice. Like Judge Sotomayor, Secretary Salazar also boasts an impressive resume demonstrating excellence as a lawyer and a distinguished career as a public servant. As you know, his nomination for Secretary of the Interior received unanimous support in the Senate – a body in which he previously proudly served for a number of years. While Secretary Salazar has never served on the federal bench, we believe his years in the U.S. Senate and his many years serving as the thirty-sixth Attorney General of Colorado have not only proven his commitment to public service and the rule of law, but also endowed him with the necessary breadth and depth of understanding regarding the many issues before our courts.
We look forward to working with you on this issue, and thank you for your consideration.
Senator Charles E. Schumer Senator Kirsten Gillibrand