President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a current federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David Souter.
In making the announcement, the president called Sotomayor "an inspiring woman" and said, "[She] has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice."
However, critics have been quick to stress her "activist" record as exemplified by her 2008 opinion supporting the city of New Haven’s decision to annul the results of a firefighter promotion exam because almost no minorities qualified for promotions.
While promising a "fair" treatment during the confirmation process, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said, "[we] will thoroughly examine [Sotomayor’s] record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."
If confirmed – as is highly likely given the Democrat-dominated Senate – Sotomayor, 54, will be the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice and the third woman to serve on the high court.