American Dream judge

Sonia Sotomayor is the American Dream judge, the latest testament that in America, one can rise from any place, to any height, through hard work, talent and faith in the dream. She did it the old-fashioned way. She earned it.

It is sad and shameful that the debate surrounding the Sotomayor nomination has strayed from what should be universal admiration for her Horatio Alger story to the demeaning slanders of hate politics.

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Judge Sotomayor grew up with deep roots in her community, which she has taken with her, to her credit, throughout her career. She did not grow up with special advantages or privileges. She was raised with the noble family values of diligence, study, learning, integrity, achievement and the spirit of lifting her broader family and community.

Through excellence and talent, she was accepted to Princeton University, where she excelled. Through preparation and learning, she was accepted to Yale Law School, where she excelled.

After law school, Judge Sotomayor was a widely respected member of the bar, and was elevated to the federal district court by a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, where she served wisely and well.

Having excelled as a district court judge, she was promoted to the Court of Appeals by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and has been supported by a number of Republicans as well as Democrats.

The story of Sonia Sotomayor is the quintessentially American story that transcends race, gender and background.

The Sonia Sotomayor story could be the story of Harry Reid, growing up in Searchlight, Nev., and rising to become Senate majority leader. Or Samuel Alito, growing up in his community to rise to Supreme Court justice.

The Sonia Sotomayor story could be the story of Jack Kemp, learning about diversity in America from the playing fields of the NFL, and taking those lessons to the Congress, the Cabinet and almost the presidency. Or Antonin Scalia, or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi, or Dwight Eisenhower, or Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or Gerald Ford, or so many others who succeeded through talent, ambition and drive yet never forgot who they are, or where they have been.

The story of Sonia Sotomayor, who I call the American Dream judge, and all of these personal stories, which are all American Dream stories, are wonderful examples of what America can be.

Our debate about this nomination must not be soiled by the stench of the politics of hate, derision and disrespect that comes from a small number of voices of a Republican right that does no service to its party, our nation or the American idea.

There is too much hate in American politics. Now a doctor has been murdered. Death threats rise against judges. There are some who seek to inject their deadly poison into our body politic. This must be rejected.

Some Republicans will vote to confirm Judge Sotomayor, as some have in the past. Other Republicans will vote no, after a respectful process, because of genuine concerns about the law. That is certainly their right. But let’s take the hate, the smears and the slanders out of this.

Judge Sotomayor is the American Dream judge. Her life story and experience will enrich the court and the justice of our nation.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.