Sotomayor Realizes Our Dream

By Sen. Robert Menendez, Huffington Post - August 7, 2009

The Senate, in confirming Judge Sonia Sotomayor, has made history and stood witness to the coming of age of America.

Our founders built a nation on an idea and an ideal.

They devised a unique experiment in a new form of government built on tolerance, equal rights, justice, and a constitution that protected us from the mighty sword of tyranny. They forged a community from shared values, common principles, yet preserved the freedom of every citizen to pursue happiness and reach for the stars no matter their circumstance at birth.

It was a revolutionary notion that, in America, one is not bound by economic or social status, and that, if we work hard, reach further, aim higher, everything is possible.

I was born in the same year as Judge Sotomayor. Like her, I came from humble beginnings, raised in an old tenement in an old neighborhood in Union City, New Jersey, the son of immigrants, first in my family to go to college.

I never dreamed that, one day, someone of my background would have the opportunity to go to the floor of the United States Senate to vote to confirm an eminently-qualified Hispanic woman who grew up in a housing project in the Bronx, across the river from that old tenement in Union City.

When Judge Sotomayor takes her seat on the United States Supreme Court, we will need only to look at the portrait of the Justices of the new Supreme Court to see how far we have come as a nation, who we really are as a people, and what our founders intended us to be, yet still we are too often divided by deeply-held individual beliefs.

The fact is we have different perspectives and different views not withstanding our common concerns and interests. All of us see the world differently and cannot deny our backgrounds or who we are. All we can ask of ourselves is that wisdom, intelligence, reason, and logic will always prevail in the decisions we make. But it is important to emphasize that who we are is not a measure of how we judge; it is merely the prism through which we analyze the facts. The real test is how we think and what we do.

The fact is that Sonia Sotomayor brings more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any Justice in the last 70 years and more Federal judicial experience than anyone in the last century. Her credentials are impeccable. She was appointed by George H. W. Bush to the U.S. District Court in New York, by Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and was confirmed by both a Democratic majority Senate and a Republican majority Senate which should tell us: if she was qualified then, she must be qualified now.

The worst her opponents can accuse her of is an accident of geography that gave her the unique ability to see the world from the street view, from the cheap seats. I know that view well. It provides a unique perspective on life. It engenders compassion. It engenders pathos, and it focuses a clear lens on the lives of those whose struggles are more profound than ours, and whose problems run far, far deeper.

That view remains with me today, and will remain with me all of my life. To me, there may be no greater vantage point from which to see the whole picture than a tenement in Union City or a housing project in the Bronx.

Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, said: "I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground." Judge Sonia Sotomayor commands a view of the whole ground. It is a strength, not a weakness.

It is who she is, not what she will do or how she will judge. It is the long view, and it gives her an edge, for she may see what others cannot, and that is a gift that will benefit this nation as a whole.

When Judge Sonia Sotomayor places her hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office, the new portrait of the Justices of the Unites States Supreme Court will more clearly reflect who we are as a nation and what we stand for as a fair, just, and hopeful people. Let that be the legacy of our generation.

Follow Sen. Robert Menendez on Twitter:

Want to reply to a comment? Hint: Click "Reply" at the bottom of the comment; after being approved your comment will appear directly underneath the comment you replied to

Thank you, Senator. It is wonderful to have a Cuban American liberal Senator and a Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice to look up to. You know, it's tough down here in the Cuban ghetto, with everyone parroting Rush Limbaugh. Anyway, let's lift the embargo, please? Why do you speak out against it? It's the only hope we have for Cuba. How long can the regime exist with a constant supply of people, information and goods streaming into that country? ----- or, if they refuse to let us in, then it will expose that the regime's biggest ally has been the embargo. Either way, Cuba wins and we win. Please? Please?

I was appalled at the venom used by white male hating affirmative action quota groups in the Sotomayor appointment. Race and gender issues claimed top spots and I hope the appointment was not made under duress from malicious threats made by these same people who claim fairness but deny the same.

Thanks Sen. Menendez. Nice piece. This echoes your appearance on Hardball yesterday.

Thanks Senator Menendez, her story and your resonates with me very much. I'm incredibly proud and elated of this American success story as well as yours. The Hispanic community is so diverse for example you as a Cuban-American has elevated by merit to the most exclusive club in the world i.e. Senate and she a Puerto-Rican American to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. And me a Mexican-American, but American nevertheless, am about to graduate with distinction from college in about a year, the first to do so from my family. When I graduate I anticipate going to law school. Hopefully my path might be as illustrious as yours and the new Associate Justice! Moreover, I love this paragraph of yours "The worst her opponents can accuse her of is an accident of geography that gave her the unique ability to see the world from the street view, from the cheap seats. I know that view well. It provides a unique perspective on life. It engenders compassion. It engenders pathos, and it focuses a clear lens on the lives of those whose struggles are more profound than ours, and whose problems run far, far deeper" So true!!

The thing we need next is an American Indian on the supreme court!

This confirmation was more about Sotomayor being hispanic than her qualifications. Come on Senator we all come from immigrant families that came to this country to better ourselves. Could it be Senators voted for her so they would not get racial backlash? Look at her record 60% of her cases were over turned by the high court. The most recent in Connecticut with the firefighters. Is she going to base her dicisions on her feelings or the law? Is it going to be about being brought up in the Bronx projects and being hispanic or the letter of the law? Look what happened when JFK became president every catholic Irish family was estactic. Why can't it just be about the person and not the ethnic or religious backgrouond? I am happy when the best qualified person gets the job!

Bob; if she votes in September to expand Corporate "Personhood" and our system of Legalized Bribery with the rest of the Federalist Society Tory Usurpers, are you gonna eat your hat on the steps of the Capital for us all too see..? I'm 100% Italian American and I know what Scalia and Alito are, and I even wrote you about what Alito did to me and the women I loved and her little kids Alito and his goons from West Essex County New Jersey America's most corrupt state, his crimes, I could care if he or they are Italian or not, I'm American first and foremost...! We'll see and know what she is in September, but I'm with Professor Jonathon Turley on this...and he knows the Alito story too..! Here's Thom Hartman on what's coming in September at the Supreme Court in this suspect special session...

I am four years younger than the author yet I do not expect to see an openly gay Supreme Court Justice in my lifetime. I now see 5, count them, 5 Catholics on the Supreme Court but no hope of one single homosexual. Someday my country will progress and quit asking people to put their hand on a fairy tale to take their oath of office.

Congrats to the 9 Republicans who voted for now Supreme Court Judge S.Sotomayer. They stated "They did not agree with all her beliefs but knew she was well qualified to be appointed to the Supreme Court." Republicans we can be proud of!

What is really pathetic though about this blog post is that at no point can Menendez show any gratitude toward President Obama for picking her. Not cool.

wow, you're obtuse.

Why minimize a person with labels? This is an accomplished individual that deserves recognition for her accomplishments and contributions. You then take away by adding labels as if what group you accidentally born in makes your accomplishments more or less. The upward struggle of all peoples should be celebrated.

If I were a Senator I would write about the unfulfilled goal of a more perfect union and the hope that a recent child of immigrants would not honor the traditional habits of inherited position and wealth and would instead vote for laws that prevented the power of a few corporations and groups to stiffle the opportunity and equitable treatment of the generality of American citizens.

Thank you, Senator. Congrats to Justice Sotomayor. Everyone who voted for her, did their job today.

You must be logged in to reply to this comment. Log in  or 

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »