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Justice Sonia Sotomayor


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Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina and third woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Born into a working-class Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, she achieved exceptional marks in elementary and secondary schools (graduating valedictorian from academically challenging Cardinal Spellman High School) and attended two Ivy League schools, including Princeton University (on a full scholarship) and Yale Law School. At Yale, she was editor of what is now known as the Yale Journal of International Law.

Her desire to be a lawyer began when she was 10, Sotomayor has said. This was two years after she was diagnosed with type I diabetes and one year after her father died of heart problems at age 42. Sonia's mother bought a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for her children and encouraged them to learn as much as they possibly could about the world around them and how they could make it a better place. Sonia achieved her dream of becoming a lawyer in 1979.

She served as assistant district attorney under New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. One of her more high-profile convictions was of the so-called "Tarzan Murderer."

After five years as an assistant D.A., Sotomayor became a private-practice lawyer, specializing in international law, intellectual property, and arbitration for the New York group Pavia & Harcourt. She became a partner in 1988 and left four years later to become a judge, having been nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was the youngest judge in the Southern District and also the first Latina or Latino judge in the State of New York. In her most notable decision as a District court judge, she issued the ruling that ended the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.

In 1998, Sotomayor was confirmed as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where she served until 2009, when she was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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