Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor
President Barack Obama nominated Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court on May 26, 2009. Justice Sotomayor assumed her seat a few months later, on August 8, 2009. Justice Sotomayor is the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Supreme Court and has played an integral role in several landmark cases.
Education and Clerkships
Justice Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. At Princeton, Justice Sotomayor became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received Princeton's highest academic honor award, the Pyne Prize.
In 1979, Justice Sotomayor earned a J.D. from Yale Law School. At Yale, she edited the Yale Law Journal and co-chaired the Latin American and Native American Students Association. Upon graduation from Yale, Justice Sotomayor was hired in the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Justice Sotomayor began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City. She then litigated international commercial matters in New York City at Pavia & Harcourt. Justice Sotomayor excelled as an intellectual property rights and copyright litigator. She became a partner in 1988.
The George H.W. Bush administration nominated Justice Sotomayor to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991. She served in this role from 1992 until 1998. Justice Sotomayor gained fame through her majority opinions in Silverman v. Major League Baseball Play Relations Committee, Inc. (1995) and Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group (1998).
In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Sotomayor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She served on the Second Circuit for ten years and issued over 300 majority opinions.
Upon Associate Justice David Souter's retirement in 2009, the Obama administration nominated Justice Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court on May 26, 2009. The Senate confirmed as an associate Supreme Court justice on August 6, 2009.
Justice Sotomayor joined a notable dissenting opinion on the very first case she heard on the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). She also wrote the dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2014) and joined the other more liberal justices in opposing Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Justice Sotomayor has joined the liberal majority on recent landmark cases. She voted twice to uphold the Affordable Care Act and joined the majority for Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Justice Sotomayor has authored several majority opinions in her time on the court. She wrote the majority opinions for Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board (2021), which held that refusal to reopen prior benefits was subject to judicial review, and Herrera v. Wyoming (2018), which held that a tribe's hunting rights did not expire upon Wyoming's statehood.
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