Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who grew up in Puerto Rican communities in the Bronx, New York, and went on to make history as the first Latino on the United States Supreme Court, will be the special guest at the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Robert W. Kastenmeier Lecture series at Shannon Hall on Thursday, Sept. 8, 4 p.m..
The UW Law School is inviting the community to a Q & A style conversation with Judge Sotomayor at the event. In March of 2001, the late Justice Antonin Scalia was the last sitting Supreme Court justice to visit UW-Madison.
Sotomayor has been in inspiration to the Latino community throughout the United States. During a speech at the Richmond School of Law, Sotomayor admitted that she never wanted to become the nation’s first Latino Supreme Court Justice. But a friend would remind her that she had a responsibility to the millions of young Latinos with no political figures to look up to.
“[My friend] said, ‘This isn’t about you. This is about my daughter,'” Sotomayor told the crowd. “‘She’s eight years old, and there’s no Hispanic in a high position of power in the United States of America. Your presence there will give her and many other children the possibility of hope.'”
Sotomayor went on to say that she nearly withdrew because of the painful comments made during her confirmation process. “During the nomination process, there were many who said I wasn’t intelligent or smart enough to be on the court,” Sotomayor admitted. “It was very, very painful.”
Sotomayor faced many difficult challenges growing up as a poor Puerto Rican in the Bronx including serious illness, poverty, living in a one-parent household, and her father’s alcoholism and death. She earned a B.A. in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and she co-chaired the Latino, Asian and Native American student organizations, before working for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and at a prestigious Manhattan law firm.
She served as a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and as a U.S. District Court judge in New York before President Barack Obama appointed Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009.
Tickets for Sotomayor’s talk at UW-Madison are sold out.