Press Release

Introduction of Judge Sonia Sotomayor by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Jul 13, 2009

you Chairman Leahy, Ranking member Sessions, Senator Schumer, and the other
distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee for the privilege to speak on
behalf of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. 
President Obama has chosen one of the country’s outstanding legal minds
with his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

a New Yorker, I take great pride along with the rest of my state in Judge
Sotomayor’s nomination.

a woman, I take great pride in this historic nomination.  In the words of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
“It took a very long time – about 171 years – to get the first woman on the
Supreme Court.  And I thought … that we’d
very likely always have two and eventually more.”

am thankful that President Obama has recognized the importance of women’s
voices on the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor’s life and career are a study in excellence – a commitment to
learning, a dedication to the law, and constant pursuit of the highest ideals
of our country.

story is also the quintessential American and New York story.  Born to a Puerto Rican family, growing up in
public housing in the South Bronx, she was raised with a love of country and a
deep appreciation for hard work.  Judge
Sotomayor demonstrated a devotion to learning, graduating summa cum laude from
Princeton and served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, before pursuing a
career in the law.

breadth and depth of Judge Sotomayor’s experience makes her uniquely qualified
for the Supreme Court.  Judge Sotomayor’s
keen understanding of case law and the importance of precedent is derived from
working in nearly every aspect of our legal system – as a prosecutor, corporate
litigator, trial judge and appellate judge.

a prosecutor, Judge Sotomayor fought the worst of society’s ills, prosecuting a
litany of crimes – from murder to child pornography to drug trafficking.  Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau
described her as a “fearless and effective prosecutor” and an “able champion of
the law.”

Sotomayor’s years as a Corporate Litigator exposed her to all facets of commercial
law including, real estate, employment, banking, contracts and agency law.

Sotomayor was appointed to the US District Court for the Southern District of
New York by President George H.W. Bush, presiding over roughly four hundred fifty cases and earning a
reputation as a tough, fair and thoughtful jurist. She would replace Justice Souter
as the only member of the Supreme Court with experience as a trial judge.

At the
appellate level, Judge Sotomayor has
participated in over three thousand panel decisions, authoring roughly four
hundred published opinions – with only seven cases brought up for review by the
Supreme Court, which reversed only three of her authored opinions, two of which
were closely divided.

With confirmation,
Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme
Court than any justice in one hundred years and more overall judicial
experience than any justice confirmed to the court in seventy years.

a testament to Judge Sotomayor, many independent national legal and law
enforcement groups have endorsed her nomination. 

American Bar Association voted unanimously to endorse Judge Sotomayor with its
highest rating – “well qualified” — citing her “formidable intellecta
mature legal mind open to the arguments of others
…  deciding
each case based on the precise facts and legal issues before her… also faithful
in following the law as it exists; and that she has a healthy respect for the
limited role of judges and the balance of powers with the executive and
legislative branches.”

President of the Fraternal Order of Police, declared that, “She is a model jurist: tough, fair-minded
and mindful of the constitutional protections afforded to all U.S.

nominee’s experience as a legal advocate for civil rights certainly must not be
seen as a disqualifying criterion for confirmation, but instead the hallmark of
an individual’s commitment to our founding principles of equality, justice and
freedom.  Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s
participation in the ACLU Women’s Rights Project or Thurgood Marshall’s efforts
on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Judge Sotomayor’s
leadership role in the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund demonstrates her
commitment to our Constitutional rights and core value that equality is an
inalienable American right – and should not be ascribed based on gender or

Sotomayor’s entire breadth of experience uniquely informs her ability to
discern facts as she applies the rule of law and follows precedent.  Judge Sotomayor’s commitment to the
Constitution is unyielding.

she described in her judicial philosophy, saying “I don’t believe we should
bend the Constitution under any circumstance. 
It says what it says.  We should
do honor to it.”  Judge Sotomayor’s
record on the Second Circuit demonstrates the paramount importance of this

importance of Sonia Sotomayor’s professional and personal story cannot be

of our most esteemed justices have noted the importance of their own diverse backgrounds
and life experiences in being an effective justice.  Like Judge Sotomayor, they also understand
that their gender or ethnicity is not the determining factor in the judicial
rulings, but another asset which they bring to the court – much like their
education, training, and previous legal work.

Antonin Scalia said:

am a product of the melting pot in New York, grew up with people of all
religious and ethnic backgrounds … I have absolutely no racial prejudices, and
I think I am probably at least as antagonistic as the average American, and
probably much more so towards racial discrimination.

Clarence Thomas said:

journey …  has been one that required me
to at some point touch on virtually every aspect, every level of our country,
from people who couldn’t read and write to people who were extremely literate,
from people who had no money to people who were very wealthy. So, what I bring to
this Court, I believe, is an understanding and the ability to stand in the
shoes of other people across a broad spectrum of this country.

Samuel Alito said:

don’t come from an affluent background or a privileged background.   My parents were both quite poor when they
were growing up.  And, I know about their
experiences …

I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own
family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or
because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

Sotomayor will bring the wisdom of all her experiences to bear as she applies
the rule of law, and will grace the Supreme Court with the intelligence,
judgment, clarity of thought and determination of purpose that we have come to
expect from all great justices on the Court. 
I strongly support Judge Sotomayor’s nomination and firmly believe she
will prove to be one of the finest justices in American history.