WASHINGTON, May 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic female federal judge, to the Supreme Court.
"I have decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the great state of New York," Obama said in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House of his choice to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice David Souter.
"Over a distinguished career that spans three decades, Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice," he said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic Justice in the nine-member Supreme Court in the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama(3rd R) introduces Supreme Court nominee Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor (R) to fill the seat being vacated by Justice David Souter, at the White House in Washington, May 26, 2009. (Reuters Photo)
The 54-year-old female judge was born to Puerto Rican parents in Bronx, New York. After her father died when she was only nine, her mother, a nurse, raised two children alone on a modest salary.
Sotomayor earned her Bachelor's degree from the Princeton University and obtained the Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School, where she also served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
"What Sonia will bring to the court, then, is not only the knowledge and experience acquired over a course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated from an inspiring life's journey," Obama said.
U.S. President Barack Obama gives Judge Sonia Sotomayor a kiss after announcing Sotomayor as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, to replace retiring Justice David Souter, during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 26, 2009. (Reuters Photo)
Widely considered as a political centrist, Sotomayor was nominated by former Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was nominated by former Democratic President Bill Clinton to the seat she now holds, as a judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
She has been regarded as a potential Supreme Court nominee by several presidents, both Republican and Democratic, and appeared again as a candidate after Souter, 69, announced at the end of April that he would retire from the Supreme Court in June.
"I hope that as the Senate and American people learn more about me, they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences," Sotomayor said during her first national appearance.
According to a CNN report, Senate Democrats supported the president's choice for the Supreme Court while Republicans still held some reservation, saying that they would fairly treat Sotomayor as a Justice nominee and examine her record.
U.S. media reports and political analysts earlier said that the president has been under pressure to pick a woman and a minority for the Supreme Court that is dominated by white males along the history.
The selection of Sotomayor was also considered a way to please Latinos, women and political independent, three major groups of supporters to Obama's presidential campaign.
Reports also said that since Souter belonged to the court's liberal wing, Sotomayor's nomination was unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court.