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Senate Confirms Sotomayor for Supreme Court

NEA supported confirmation, praising Sotomayor’s commitment to education.

By Kevin Hart

The U.S. Senate made history today when it confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the newest member of the Supreme Court – a confirmation that was sought and supported by the National Education Association.

Sotomayor, who will be the first Hispanic woman to sit on the Supreme Court, was confirmed by a vote of 68-31. With a reputation as a centrist, Sotomayor was appointed as a federal judge in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush, before being tabbed as a Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Sotomayor has made significant rulings in the fields of organized labor and education. In 1995, she issued an injunction to stop Major League Baseball from unilaterally altering the collective bargaining agreement with its striking players’ union so it could hire replacement players.

In 2008, she sat on a panel that affirmed a lower-court decision in Doninger v. Niehoff, which allowed a school to discipline a student who posted profane and defamatory statements about the school’s educators on a blog.

The National Education Association had previously endorsed Sotomayor’s nomination, and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel praised her as bringing “more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Supreme Court in the past 70 years.”

Van Roekel said he was impressed by Sotomayor’s inspirational life story. Her father, who only had a third-grade education, died when she was nine years old. But her mother instilled in her the value of education, and Sotomayor excelled in school, eventually earning an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Yale.

“Her commitment to education, both in her professional and personal life, is one we would all do well to follow,” Van Roekel said.

Van Roekel had pushed for Sotomayor’s confirmation in a letter to the full Senate, in which he said it was clear Sotomayor “understands the judiciary’s role in protecting the rights of all Americans, in ensuring equal justice, and in respecting our Constitutional values.”

Sotomayor is scheduled to be sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice on August 8.