LatinoJustice PRLDEF Celebrates Sonia Sotomayor’s Confirmation as the 111th Justice of the United States Supreme Court

LatinoJustice PRLDEF joined millions of proud Americans across the country in celebrating Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation as the 111th Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation was a landmark event for all members of the LatinoJustice family. She served on the LatinoJustice PRLDEF Board of Directors from 1980 to 1992, beginning as a young prosecutor fresh out of law school, and leaving after she was chosen to become a judge on the federal court of appeals. As a member of the board, Justice Sotomayor exhibited exceptional leadership and professionalism, as well as a strong sense of dedication to civil rights.

When he learned that Sonia Sotomayor would become the next justice, LatinoJustice President and General Counsel (and co-founder) Cesar Perales said: “When we started what was then the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund to protect the civil liberties of Latinos over 37 years ago, we would never have imagined that some day we would have one of our own on the nation’s highest court.”

Justice Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent and was raised in a housing project in the Bronx, has become a tremendous source of pride for the Latino community. All Americans, not just Latinos, can be proud of her impressive career in the U.S. judicial system and her incredible life story. Raised by a single mother, Sonia Sotomayor, worked hard at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx to get into and later graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University. She earned a law degree from Yale Law School and, upon graduation, returned to New York City to work as an Assistant District Attorney for five years before entering private practice. In 1991 she was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; and was nominated by President Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997, where she served until she was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.

Justice Sotomayor joins the Supreme Court at a time when the Hispanic community has been at the heart of a number of attacks on our civil liberties, many of them tied to the highly-politicized immigration debate. In her short time as a Justice, she has already made history by taking a crucial step forward in improving the discourse in the immigration debate: Sotomayor’s written opinion in the case Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term “undocumented immigrant” was used in one of the Court’s opinions, instead of the more negatively-charged term “illegal alien.”

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