Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Supreme Court Watch

The wait is finally over. At 10:17 a.m. on Tuesday, President Obama announced his nomination to the Supreme Court: 54-year-old Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor was one of four female candidates that the President interviewed at the White House and the most controversial of the potential nominees, due to her candid remarks about the influence that life experience plays on a judge’s interpretation of the law.

Immediately following the announcement, the White House began to familiarize America with Sotomayor’s story. Obama highlighted the Judge’s diversity of professional experience: as a prosecutor, hired by Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau; as a partner in the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt; as a federal judge, appointed to the U.S. District Court by President George H.W. Bush; and as a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, appointed by President Clinton. He also pointed to her background as a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent from modest circumstances who rose to the highest levels of government through academic success and a distinguished career path.

If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic justice on the nation’s highest court and the third woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Her appointment will likely preserve the balance between liberal and conservatives that reigned when Justice Souter sat on the court.

Teaching Current Events with the Constitution

Teachers can assign students to research the Judge’s rulings as a Appeals Court Judge and make predictions about the issues that will surface during her confirmation hearings. Ask students to consider on what grounds Republicans might object to Judge Sotomayor’s record. What are the risks of challenging the nomination for the Republican party? What process can Senate Republicans follow in order to stall her nomination?

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