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20 Impressive Facts About Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

In 2009, Judge Sonia Sotomayor made histor by becoming the first Latina ever to become a member of the Supreme Court. She is also only the third woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. While both facts are interesting on their own, there are many more fascinating details that make up Justice Sotomayor’s life.

Between her parents’ humble beginnings, her years in prestigious colleges and her life as a judge, the Latina from the Bronx has conquered a lot. Still, the Supreme Court Justice acknowledges the power of growth. She aspires to be an imperfect role model for those who live an imperfect lives. That acknowledgment of both her victories and her flaws make her the multifaceted idol that the Latinidad deserves.

Here are 20 amazing facts about the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

1. Sotomayor is a Boricua.

Twitter / @Latina

Justice Sotomayor’s parents were both born in Puerto Rico but moved to the Bronx during World War II. Though they were both from the island, they actually didn’t meet until after they relocated. Her father, Juan, was from San Juan while her mother, Celina, was from the rural area of Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast. Though they were both from the same territory, they otherwise has little in common.

2. The Supreme Court Justice was diagnosed with diabetes as a child.

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Growing up in their modest home in the Bronx presented the Sotomayor family with many challenges. One such obstacle is something the Supreme Court Justice still contends with today. At the age of 7, Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. From that day on, the young Latina would have to take daily insulin shots to regulate her blood sugar levels.

3. Her father tragically passed away when she was a girl.

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Sotomayor’s father was a non-English speaking laborer with a serious drinking problem. Though he always supported the family, his alcoholism caused tension in the already strained family. Unfortunately, Sotomayor would lose her father when she was 9. Juan Sotomayor died at the age of 42 due to heart disease. His loss would put even more strain on the impoverished household.

4. Her childhood idol came straight of the pages of a very popular bookend series.

The New York Times

Despite the hardship that young Sonia faced, she found a haven in the pages of her favorite works of children’s literature. As a girl, she was inspired by kid detective Nancy Drew and her investigative heroics. Because of her “Nancy Drew” books, Sotomayor wanted to pursue career as a detective. However, after her diabetes diagnosis, her doctors suggested she find another dream.

5. Her dream to become a judge came from a piece of pop culture.

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After her doctors advised against being a detective, the young Sotomayor found a new dream. Instead of from the pages of her favorite books, this one came from the small screen. As a girl, the future Supreme Court Justice was inspired to pursue a legal career after watching “Perry Mason.” By the age of 10, Sotomayor set her sights on going to college to become a lawyer and later becoming a judge.

6. Sotomayor’s mother had high expectations for her children.

My Beloved World / Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor grew up with a mother who was emotionally distant. Perhaps it was the stress of raising two children alone, but Celina Sotomayor was not a warm and doting mother. However, she was fanatically committed to her children’s education. Her mother purchased a complete collection of “Encyclopedia Britannica” for her children’s personal use — a huge expense and luxury for the time. Despite their distance, Justice Sotomayor credits her mother as her life’s inspiration.

7. That focus resulted in a full scholarship to Princeton University.

Princeton Alumni Weekly

Her mother’s strict focus on Sotomayor’s academics paid off. The future Supreme Court Justice was valedictorian of both her grammar school and her high school. This academic excellence would also land her a full scholarship to Princeton University — despite the cultural biases that Sotomayor acknowledged hindered her test scores.

8. The future-Supreme Court Justice had academic trouble in college.

Wagner Faculty / Nassau Herald

Sotomayor’s entrance into Princeton was a culture shock. Her entrance class had few women and only about 20 Latinos total. She has described her time there as being like “a visitor landing in an alien country.” Sotomayor was afraid to ask questions or for much needed help during her first year of college. After receiving low test scores her first semester, the future Supreme Court Justice opened up and sought out help from tutors.

9. Still, she managed to graduate with highest marks.

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Despite her rough start, Sotomayor aced her final two years of undergrad. Her senior thesis, “La Historia Ciclica de Puerto Rico,”  won honorable mention for the Latin American Studies Thesis Prize. Her senior year, she won the Pyne Prize — an award for undergraduates recognizing excellence in academics and extracurriculars. She also graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in History.

10. She was appointed unanimously as a US District Court Judge.

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In the early 1990’s, Sotomayor had proven herself to be a political centrist with a long history of pro bono service work. This, coupled with the support of senators like Ted Kennedy, earned the Latina a nomination to a seat on the US District Court. It was President H. W. Bush who nominated Sotomayor and she would go on to be confirmed unanimously.

11. Sotomayor has taught at some of the most prestigious law schools in the US.

Vanderbilt University / Joe Howell

Besides attending some of the best schools in the nation, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor has also taught at many. From 1998 through 2007, she taught trail and appellate advocacy at New York University School of Law as an adjunct professor. Later in 1999, the future Supreme Court Justice would go on to lecture at Columbia Law School.

12. Republican opposition delayed her Court of Appeals nomination for over a year.

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In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor for a position on the US Court of Appeals. Since her previous nomination was confirmed so quickly, this one was expected to be the same. However, it quickly became a political stand off. Republicans wanted to block Sotomayor because they saw it as a move by the Clinton Administration to have the first Latino in line for Supreme Court. The delay lasted over a year until she was finally confirmed (67-29).

13. The housing project she grew up in now bares her name.

CBS New York

In honor of all that Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor has accomplished, her childhood community decided to honor her in a big way. In 2010, the Bronxdale Houses — the housing project she was raised in — were named in honor of the newly appointed justice. The NYCHA development is now called the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses.

14. It took just under 5 months for her to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The New York Times

Although it took such a long time to confirm her to the US Court of Appeals, her confirmation to the Supreme Court went more smoothly. In May of 2009, President Barack Obama nominated the Latina for her position on the highest court of America. Liberals celebrated her nomination as a move towards putting leaders with heart on the bench while Conservatives worried about her “Latino bias.” Opponents like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich claimed Sotomayor was “racist” against white people. Still, she was confirmed on a vote of 68-31 less than 5 months later.

15. She has a unique relationship with the New York Yankees.

Twitter / @YESNetwork

Growing up in the Bronx, it’s only natural that Sotomayor is a lifelong New York Yankees fan. Besides regularly attending games, the Supreme Court Justice was able to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Yankees 2009-2010 season. The Yankees had an incredible season, winning the World Series. To thank Justice Sotomayor for the good energy she sent with her first pitch, the Yankees brought their World Series Championship trophy to visit Sotomayor’s Supreme Court chambers.

16. Sotomayor has had some major health scares during her time as Justice.

Twitter / CNNPolitics

Having lived with diabetes since such a young age, Sotomayor has learned what works for her body. Unfortunately, in 2018, the Supreme Court Justice had a scare involving low blood sugar. Paramedics were called and Sotomayor was treated and escorted home. However, after a day of rest, the Latina was back at work. That same year, Justice Sotomayor suffered a broken shoulder because of a fall. She had to undergo a reverse total shoulder replacement surgery. It’s taken some physical therapy, but the judge is back to her usual self.

17. She has weighed in on some of the most substantial Supreme Court cases in US history.

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There are almost too many notable decisions made by Sotomayor in her career as a judge to mention here so let’s focus on her time in the Supreme Court. She ruled with the majority that upheld the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court Justice also sided with the majority in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized marriage equality. Finally, she recently voted against the Trump Administration’s controversial Muslim Ban.

18. She has been a champion of marginalized communities.

Instagram / law_office_justica

Sotomayor has acknowledged that she is a woman who has benefited from affirmative action. As such, she’s been a vocal champion in favor of affirmative action programs that grant women and minorities a level playing field. In 2014, the court upheld a Michigan case that barred affirmative action programs. In response, Sotomayor wrote a 58 page dissenting response — three times longer than the decision to uphold — explaining that the court’s duty is defend the civil rights of historically marginalized groups.

19. Sotomayor wrote a best selling book about her life.

Instagram / @melannrosenthal

In 2010, Sotomayor signed on to write an autobiography and received an advance of almost $1.2 Million for her words. Titled “My Beloved World,” the book was also published in Spanish and told the story of her life up until her Supreme Court nomination. The memoir was critically acclaimed and spent numerous weeks on the “New York Times” Bestseller List — even debuting at number one.

20. She’s also written a children’s story book.

Instagram / @PenguinKids

Besides inspiring adults with her memoir, Sotomayor wanted to share her story with kids. A reminder that they could achieve their dreams no matter what, “Turning Pages: My Life Story” was published in 2018. Described as thoughtful and sincere, the book was well received by critics and remains a great read — especially for young Latinas who dare to dream.

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Two Latinas Confronted Jeff Flake After He Announced He’d Back Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

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Two Latinas Confronted Jeff Flake After He Announced He’d Back Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

After a day of heated testimony and questioning in the hearings regarding U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey  Ford, two Latinas made it their business to ensure that the stories of sexual assault survivors no longer fell on deaf ears. In a brazen confrontation addressing Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake over his statements in support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the two women admonished him for ignoring the voices of Kavanaugh’s victims and thus the millions of women across the country who have come forward with their personal stories of sexual assault.

In the ultimate curveball of the week, the two women seemed to have influenced the senator’s decision.

The two women confronted Flake soon after a statement he made in  support of Kavanaugh was made public.

Ana Maria Archila of Queens, NY and Maria Gallagher from Westchester, NY confronted Flake during a break from the hearings as he was attempting to access an elevator. The two women furiously blocked the set of elevator doors from closing as Sen. Flake stood inside, forcing him to listen to their stories of surviving sexual assault and demanding that he answer their questions.

“You’re telling me my assault doesn’t matter. You’re letting people who do these things into power. That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him,” Gallagher told Flake as he attempted to dodge looking at her as she spoke. “Don’t look away from me,” Gallagher said to Flake as she confronted him from outside of the elevator. You can hear the tears in her voice as she continues. “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”

As an aid to Flake attempted to get the women to leave with “thank yous” and “it’s time to goes,” Archila jumped into address Flake directly herself.

“What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children,” Archila said to Flake. “I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?”

A bio about Archila on the Center for Popular Democracy of which she is a Co-Executive Director says that she emigrated from Colombia to the United States when she was 17, and now works to push for for racial and economic justice as well as immigrant rights in New York and across the country. The bio highlights Archila’s work as an advocate for “multi-racial alliance of immigrants, African Americans and white working class communities working to advance an agenda of racial and economic justice.”

Gallagher’s activism and background has yet to be made public, but a representative of  the Center for Popular Democracy said that she is not affiliated with the organization but that she is clearly “a passionate person.”

In an interview with ABC News, Archila explained that she “went to Jeff Flake’s office because I think of him as someone who sometimes chooses his conscience over his party… We weren’t really willing to let him go without actually looking at us and forcing him to listen to our stories and making him understand the gravity of the message he was sending to the country.”

After the confrontation  Flake requested a one-week delay on their decision so the F.B.I. could investigate the accusations against him.

After an abrupt closed-door meeting between Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell, Flake announced he would support the final confirmation of Kavanaugh under the condition that the the F.B.I. was allowed an opportunity to investigate the allegations.

Read: Mexico’s President-Elect Kissed A Women Reporter On The Cheek Instead of Answering Her Questions

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12 Sonia Sotomayor Quotes That Will Inspire Latinas To Keep Blazing Throughout 2019

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12 Sonia Sotomayor Quotes That Will Inspire Latinas To Keep Blazing Throughout 2019

For inspiration on overcoming adversity and creating a meaningful life of love and justice, look no further than Sonia Sotomayor.

The first Latina Supreme Court Justice, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, was born in the Bronx, New York to impoverished Puerto Rican parents. Her father, who battled alcoholism, died when Sotomayor was eight years old, right around the time she was diagnosed with diabetes. Her mother, a telephone operator and nurse, was left to raise her alone, always stressing the importance of education. That insistence helped land Sotomayor in Princeton as well as Yale Law School and eventually shaped her into a barrier-breaking judge who became the third woman and first Latino to sit on the highest court in the land.

On the wise Latina’s 64th birthday, get inspired by some of her most encouraging quotes.

1. “Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Wealth isn’t always defined by money but rather by the invaluable people, culture and moments in your life.

2. “I have never, ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Even in the darkest tunnel, there is a light guiding you to freedom and greatness.

3. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Bam! What she said.

4. “When you come from a background like mine, where you’re entering worlds that are so different than your own, you have to be afraid.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Just don’t let that fear stop you from reaching your own destiny and realizing your power.

5. “I realized that people had an unreal image of me, that somehow I was a god on Mount Olympus. I decided that if I were going to make use of my role as a Supreme Court Justice, it would be to inspire people to realize that, first, I was just like them and second, if I could do it, so could they.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When your hermana wins, you win, too, ‘cause her gain just helped you getting closer to your own.

6. “To have a romance, you have to have time. I’m a justice. I’ve written a book. The guy’s gonna have to wait until I’m a little bit freer.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Prioritize yourself, your vision and your happiness, baby girl.

7. “It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

You often have more to learn from your upbringing, and the experiences it dealt you, than from a textbook.

8. “I’m young at heart. I’m young in spirit, and I’m still adventurous.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Never stop having fun.

9. “I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Soar above others’ expectations of you.

10. “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

You are fire.

11. “You know, failure hurts. Any kind of failure stings. If you live in the sting, you will undoubtedly fail. My way of getting past the sting is to say no, ‘I’m just not going to let this get me down.’”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Fall down seven times and get up eight.

12. “I came to accept during my freshman year that many of the gaps in my knowledge and understanding were simply limits of class and cultural background, not lack of aptitude or application as I’d feared.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

You are not inherently less than but you have systematically been taught to believe you are — and that is a myth you must debunk for yourself and those around you.

Read: A Shop Owner Complained About Graffiti On The Walls Of Her Store And This Teen Created A Mural On It To Empower Women

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