A year ago this Sunday, August 8th, our nation witnessed a historical moment as the first Latina Supreme Court Justice was sworn into office. Only the third woman to sit on the Supreme Court bench—the first being Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, followed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—Judge Sonia Sotomayor made her mark from the start by planting her stamp on history. And it's clear this wise Latina is just getting started.
We take a look at some highlights from the past year.
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On September 8, 2009, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was surrounded by a small group of close friends and family at her investiture ceremony in which the court formally welcomes its newest member.
President Obama, Vice President Biden, former Justice John Souter and even Senator Lindsey Graham were all in attendance. Sotomayor was ready for work thanks to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who gifted the newest justice with a white decorative collar that she could wear under her judges robe, which for hundreds of years have been made for men.
Shortly after Judge Sotomayor's confirmation, Jennifer Lopez reportedly threw a private affair for the first Latina and third woman ever to serve on the nation’s highest court. Lopez, 40, and husband Marc Anthony invited approximately 12 people to their Long Island, NY home for a cocktail and dinner party in honor of 55-year-old Sotomayor, J. Lo’s fellow Puerto Rican from The Bronx. Most of the guests are said to have come from the political world.
Grammy award-winning jazz great Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra debuted "Wise Latina Woman," penned by O'Farrill and commissioned by The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Symphony Space in honor of Sotomayor in November 2009.
The newly minted Supreme Court Justice hits the dance floor with La Bamba star Esai Morales at the Noche Musicál gala for The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) last night in Washington D.C.
Sotomayor, a proud New Yorker, threw out the ceremonial pitch at Yankee Stadium before the New York versus Boston Red Sox game on September 26, 2009.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was given the opportunity to deliver the first opinion in December 2009. She read the opinion out loud regarding the case of Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter.
The case involved a man named Norman Carpenter, who sued his former employer, Mohawk Industries, for wrongful termination. He then met with the company's lawyers and was attempting to obtain the documentation from the meeting. A federal judge ruled that the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege, but said that the company had waived its rights through its litigation involving undocumented workers.
The Supreme Court agreed with the federal judges decision. "Postjudgment appeals, together with other review mechanisms, suffice to protect the rights of litigants and preserve the vitality of the attorney client privilege," Sotomayor said. The decision was unanimous; but Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed with part of Sotomayor's reasoning.
This past May, in the case of Hui vs. Castaneda, Judge Sotomayor delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, which rejected a claim from a Los Angeles immigrant seeking medical attention while in a federal detention center. Francisco Castaneda, who died of cancer, sued the U.S. Public Health Service doctors who ignored his pleas, shortly before his death.
The Supreme Court Justice said, “We are required to read the statute according to its text," in which the law allows suits only against the U.S. government, not against employees of the Public Health Service.
Bluewater Productions released Female Force: Sonia Sotomayor on May 5, 2010. This edition of the biographical comics follows the "wise Latina” from the Bronx to the Supreme Court bench. Other comics from the company include Female Force: Nancy Pelosi and Political Power: Al Gore.
July 4, 2010, is a busy day for Judge Sotomayor. First, the Bronxdale Houses, a group of 28 seven-story buildings where she grew up, was renamed Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses and Community Center. Later, she delivered the commencement speech at Hostos Community College, where her mother, Celina Baez, graduated in 1973 with a nursing degree. "All who have come from a foreign land, who are the first in your family to graduate….you are living proof, like my brother and I that you can make it,” she told the graduating class while her mother and brother watched from the audience.
Judge Sotomayor signs a book deal to publish her "coming-of-age" memoir with publisher Alfred A. Knopf, which will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish. The publisher tells us they won't have a release date until they get the manuscript. We can hardly wait!