Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Make Direct Appeal to President Obama Recommending He Nominate the First Ever Latino to the Supreme Court Should a Vacancy Occur During His Term

May 1, 2009

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten
Gillibrand sent a personal letter to President Barack Obama asking him to
appoint a Latino to fill the next vacancy on the United States Supreme Court
should a seat open up during President Obama’s administration. Schumer and
Gillibrand specifically recommended Judge Sonia Sotomayor, currently sitting on
the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Interior Secretary and former Colorado
Senator and State Attorney General Ken Salazar. Schumer and Gillibrand said
both would make outstanding justices and help ensure that the Supreme Court
reflect the full diversity of the nation. This would be the first ever
nomination of a Latino to the Supreme Court.

“It’s long overdue that a Latino sit on the United States
Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor and Ken Salazar are two candidates who would
make outstanding justices. They have top-notch legal minds, years of
experience, moderate approaches to the law, and would make history by being the
first Latino on the court,” Senator Schumer said.

“We are fortunate in New York State to have
jurists of the caliber and intellect that Judge Sotomayor has
exhibited during a lifelong career of service to the bench.  As an
accomplished jurists, as a woman, and as a Latina she would bring to the United
States Supreme Court a much needed voice.  We must be committed to
diversity on our nation’s highest bench.  These candidates will restore
the balance that we so desperately need on the Court,” Senator Gillibrand said.

The text of the Senators’ letter to President Obama is
included below:

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

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


Senator Charles E. Schumer

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand