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Senate Makes History By Confirming Sotomayor

Aug 6, 2009

Sotomayor becomes first Hispanic and third woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, DC – Latino leaders from across the U.S. join Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) in a celebration of today’s 68-31 vote by the U.S. Senate to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She will be the first Hispanic and only the third woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor will start her service on the Supreme Court with more federal judicial experience than any Justice in the past century and will be the only Justice on the court with experience as a prosecutor. Her nomination attracted support from a wide range of organizations in law enforcement, civil rights, business, labor and the professional legal community, including the American Bar Association, which gave Sotomayor its highest rating. Despite all this, three quarters of Republican Senators opposed her historic nomination.

“Sonia Sotomayor is the product of dreams, perseverance, and determination. Her story is America’s story and her accomplishments are a reflection of what we can do in this country. From humble beginnings to the highest court in the United States, Sonia Sotomayor, with the help of a dedicated single mother and confidence in hard work now stands before the United States as the newest Supreme Court Justice,” said Ramona Romero, President of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

"Justice Sotomayor's eminent qualifications and wise committee testimony shattered a glass ceiling today. This tremendous accomplishment is only marred by the fact that so many senators chose to elevate partisanship and political pandering over principle by voting against her confirmation. History -- and the fast-growing community of Latino voters -- will judge these senators harshly,” said Tom Saenz, incoming President and General Counsel of MALDEF.

“The U.S. Senate deserves applause for recognizing Judge Sotomayor's record of excellence and strong integrity. Her achievements in her life and career, against the many odds that were stacked against her, epitomize the strength of the American spirit. As a Supreme Court Justice, she will rule fairly and effectively, and provide a role model for generations to come,” said David C. Lizarraga, Chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that so many from one party were reluctant to recognize Judge Sotomayor's impressive qualifications will be something our community is likely to remember.”

“Throughout her distinguished career, Judge Sotomayor has combined a profound respect for the rule of law with careful and thoughtful analysis of the law’s impact on the day-to-day realities of our diverse nation. Judge Sotomayor will now have the opportunity to demonstrate these qualities as an Associate Justice. We congratulate her as she moves forward to shape decisions that will have a fundamental and lasting impact on America’s future. We are deeply proud of the progress her confirmation represents for our community and the entire nation,” said NALEO Board President Sylvia Garcia.

''August 6, 2009 marks a watershed moment for this great nation and it is a date that will quickly take hold in the memories of millions of Hispanic Americans of all ages and backgrounds. History was made today and our country will be the better for it,'' stated NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

“This is a historic and positive day for all Americans,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “Judge Sotomayor puts the law first and received the highest rating from the American Bar Association. However, the Hispanic community is disappointed in the lack of Republican support for this nominee. This vote matters and will have long term consequences at the ballot box. The Republican party opposition is concerning and raises serious questions.”

“This is a very emotional moment for us and for the people we serve,” said Cesar Perales, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “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.”

“I am pleased and proud to congratulate Judge Sonia Sotomayor on her confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States; this is a landmark day for women and for Latinos alike. Judge Sotomayor was preeminently qualified for this position and I am pleased with the bipartisan support she was able to amass. As Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus for the Texas House of Representatives, I am disappointed that both Texas Senators chose to ignore her stellar record and judicial temperament to appease extreme factions within their own party. The symbolism of their rejection of the first Latino Supreme Court justice will undoubtedly be felt by the largest growing demographic of Texans that is sure to linger long after this historic achievement in our nation's rich history,” said Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

“In Sotomayor, President Obama selected a well-qualified and experienced judge and the 68 Senators who have voted to confirm Judge Sotomayor have rightfully seized upon a tremendous opportunity to make history by bringing the Hispanic community into the exclusive chambers of the highest court in the land. As CEO and President of Democracia Ahora a Hispanic advocacy group, and it's sister organization, Democracia USA, the most successful Hispanic voter registration program in the country, I am so pleased that President Obama and many members of the U.S. Senate have acknowledged the contributions of our community in word, but more importantly, in deed,” stated Jorge Mursuli, CEO and President of Democracia Ahora.

“Today’s historic vote by the U.S. Senate to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court proves that the American Dream is alive and well. A woman of great talent was able to lift herself from poverty and other challenges to become a stellar jurist and now a member of our nation’s highest court,” said Kansas State Representative Delia Garcia. “The only frustrating note about today’s vote is that so many Republicans chose to cast their vote based on rhetoric and distortions rather than Judge Sotomayor’s long record of upholding the law and our constitution.”

“Today we are witnessing history in the making, and Latinos and all Americans should be proud of the new page of history we have turned with Justice Sotomayor's confirmation,” said Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti. “Her journey to the bench embodies the very values upon which our country was founded, including the idea that anyone can achieve anything with a little ambition and a lot of hard work. It's a great day for our nation.”

“The Senate confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor heralds a new era of diversity in our courts. Judge Sotomayor offers inspiration for Latinas as her confirmation has challenged stereotypes and demonstrated the growing political power of the Latino community,” said Silvia Henriquez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is expected to be sworn-in within the week, giving her sufficient time to participate in the Supreme Court’s September deliberations about which cases it will review during its new session beginning in October.

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Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary (HFJ) was formed in April 2005 in order to provide Hispanic leaders across the nation a platform and voice in matters related to our nation's judicial system. HFJ is an unaffiliated, non-partisan, independent network of elected officials, legal, civil rights, labor, academic and political leaders who care deeply about the impact that the Supreme Court has on the Latino community.

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