Her Honor: A Portrait of Justice Soñia Sotomayor

Posted by Audiegrl

Justice Sonia SotomayerLatina Magazine/Shani Saxon-Parrish—America has never before met a wise Latina like Soñia Sotomayor. Latina contributor and former Editor-in-Chief Sandra Guzmán offers the first glimpse of the woman behind the robe in this exclusive profile of the newly minted Supreme Court justice.

Here is an excerpt from this fascinating story:

I first met Soñia in 1998, after she had been sworn in as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. I was the Editor-in-Chief of Latina, and a mutual friend, New York attorney Lee Llambelis, suggested that Sotomayor was someone I should meet since I’d probably want to write an article on her (which appeared in our March 1999 issue). Sotomayor’s life story not only inspired readers, but also captivated me.

Since then, we’ve been to each other’s homes for dinner and shared many sweet, honest and confidential conversations. A doting hostess, she puts together cheese platters, makes tasty salads and hooks up a mean churrasco with a tangy lemon marinade. This past spring, she promised to share some of her culinary secrets, so we set a date to fire up the grill in her small yet superb two-bedroom condo in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Soñia thought things would finally slow down for her by the summer—but that’s when things really started heating up.

During those grueling confirmation hearings in July, Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl dissected her now-famous “wise Latina” phrase, uttered during an inspirational lecture to Latino law students at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Soñia Sotomayor in the Justices’ Conference Room on Aug 8, 2009. Mrs. Celina Sotomayor, the mother of the new Associate Justice, holds the family Bible during the ceremony.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Soñia Sotomayor in the Justices’ Conference Room on Aug 8, 2009. Mrs. Celina Sotomayor, the mother of the new Associate Justice, holds the family Bible during the ceremony

The senators aggressively argued that her remarks proved she would bring bias and a liberal agenda to the bench. But Sotomayor repeatedly explained that her comments were part of a regrettable “rhetorical flourish that fell flat.” “I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging,” she said. She added that she was simply trying “to inspire young Hispanics, Latino students and lawyers to believe that their life experiences added value to the process.’’

As the new personification of an intellectual rock star, Sotomayor has been inundated with interview requests—from Vogue to Newsweek, El País to Le Monde. But the new justice has yet to agree to a sit-down, aside from one she granted C-Span for a documentary on the Supreme Court. When I asked about a formal interview for this magazine, she told me, “I am not doing interviews and have said no to everyone. I do not want to be seen as having favorites.”

She did, however, agree to have her portrait taken for the cover and inside pages. And she went as far as granting me her blessing: “You will have to write based on our history together.”

And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

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2 Comments

Filed under Barack Obama, Change, Creepy right-wing antics, Culture, Entertainment, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Justice Sonya Sotomayer, Law, Magazines, New York, New York, NY, Partisan Politics, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Republicans, Supreme Court, Uncategorized, US, Washington, DC, Women's Issues

2 responses to “Her Honor: A Portrait of Justice Soñia Sotomayor

  1. ogenec

    I wish she would reconsider her position on interviews. She has such a compelling story, and I would really like to learn more about her. But it’s probably way too soon. I find it fascinating that she and Clarence Thomas have a lot in common as far as upbringing, and yet appear to be mirror images of one another.

    • audiegrl

      What I liked about this interview was that we got to see the personal side of Justice Sotomayer.

      Its a shame that she has to be cautious of doing interviews, but I totally understand in today’s media climate.

      Like she learned in the hearings, one small word or phrase can be turned into a soundbite that will portray her as a racist monster. Fox will run it 24/7, and have teabag protesters with nasty signs outside of the Supreme Court demanding for her resignation. So I don’t blame her.

      Its a real shame…

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