Sotomayor: I'll apply the law

Sonia Sotomayor emphasized her personal story and pledged "fidelity to the law" in her opening statement today.

"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy," Sotomayor said. "It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law."

Sotomayor's statements are an attempt to answer Republican critics who say she has let her gender and ethnicity unduly influence her judicial responsibilities.

In his opening remarks today, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) repeatedly called Sotomayor "prejudiced."

Sotomayor acknowledged that her experiences "help me listen and understand" but insisted that the "law always command[s] the result in every case."

The nominee also cited the hardships she faced growing up.

"The progression of my life has been uniquely American," Sotomayor said. "My parents left Puerto Rico during World War II. I grew up in modest circumstances in a Bronx housing project. My father, a factory worker with a third grade education, passed away when I was nine years old."

Read Sotomayor's full statement below.





OPENING STATEMENT OF JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
July 13, 2009

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for that kind introduction.

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting eighty-nine gracious Senators, including all the members of this Committee. I thank you for the time you have spent with me. Our meetings have given me an illuminating tour of the fifty states and invaluable insights into the American people.

There are countless family members, friends, mentors, colleagues, and clerks who have done so much over the years to make this day possible. I am deeply appreciative for their love and support. I want to make one special note of thanks to my mom. I am here today because of her aspirations and sacrifices for both my brother Juan and me. Mom, I love that we are sharing this together. I am very grateful to the President and humbled to be here today as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

The progression of my life has been uniquely American. My parents left Puerto Rico during World War II. I grew up in modest circumstances in a Bronx housing project. My father, a factory worker with a third grade education, passed away when I was nine years old.

On her own, my mother raised my brother and me. She taught us that the key to success in America is a good education. And she set the example, studying alongside my brother and me at our kitchen table so that she could become a registered nurse. We worked hard. I poured myself into my studies at Cardinal Spellman High School, earning scholarships to Princeton University and then Yale Law School, while my brother went to medical school. Our achievements are due to the values that we learned as children, and they have continued to guide my life's endeavors. I try to pass on this legacy by serving as a mentor and friend to my many godchildren and students of all backgrounds.

Over the past three decades, I have seen our judicial system from a number of different perspectives