NEA, Latino Groups Honor Sotomayor
By Kevin Hart
Friday, October 16, 2009 — More than 650 community activists from nearly two dozen Latino groups joined NEA staff at NEA headquarters yesterday to meet and pay tribute to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
ASPIRA, a national Hispanic organization dedicated to developing the educational and leadership capacity of Hispanic youth, led the event, which was also sponsored NEA’s Minority Community Outreach program.
Sotomayor, who received a long ovation from attendees after she arrived at NEA headquarters, thanked the activists and the Latino community for their support.
The first Hispanic woman to sit on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor was sworn in as its newest member in August, and her nomination was endorsed by NEA. 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.”
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.
Sotomayor's life story is an inspiration for America's youth. 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.