A number of sources are reporting that President Barack Obama will nominate federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace Associate Justice Souter on the US Supreme Court.
Sotomayor, a Latina of Puerto Rican descent, was born and raised in New York. She was named to the US District Court by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and is widely considered to be a political centrist. The highest profile cases on which she has ruled included the preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball which ended the 1994 baseball strike, and an order allowing the New York Times to publish Vince Foster’s suicide note. She also rejecting a suburban law preventing the display of a 9-foot-high menorah in a park. Sotomayor was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the seat she now occupies.
Wikipedia notes that Sotomayor’s nomination to the Federal bench by President Clinton “was approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but became ‘embroiled in the sometimes tortured judicial politics of the Senate,’ as some Republicans said they did not want to consider the nomination because elevating Sotomayor to the Appeals Court would enhance her prospects of being appointed to the Supreme Court. An anonymous senator put a secret hold on her nomination, blocking it for over a year. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called the length of the hold ‘disturbing,’ ‘petty,’ and ‘shameful,’ also noting that at that time, ‘[o]f the 10 judicial nominees whose nominations have been pending the longest before the Senate, eight are women and racial or ethnic minority candidates.‘ “
If confirmed, Sotomayor will be the first Latino Supreme Court Justice.