Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Hispanic for the Supreme Court

Via El Diario La Prensa, 2 April 2009.

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are urging President Obama to appoint a Latino to the United States Supreme Court. EL DIARIO/LA PRENSA joins their call.

Recognizing that the president is likely to have the opportunity to nominate a justice, Schumer and Gillibrand have asked him to consider two high caliber candidates – Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Latinos are 15 percent of the U.S. population. But you would never know this from looking at the federal judiciary, where only seven percent of judges are Hispanic. That gross underrepresentation must come to an end – at the highest levels.

A native New Yorker, Sotomayor has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats in her appointments to the federal bench. She served as District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York prior to her 1998 appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Salazar, a former senator and attorney general of Colorado, also has a distinguished record. But we must note another glaring imbalance on the Supreme Court: out of its nine justices, only one is a woman.

Should a vacancy emerge on the Court, Sotomayor should be at the top of Obama's list. She is an experienced judge with excellent credentials. And she happens to be Hispanic.

The Supreme Court is a cornerstone of our democracy. Its decisions reverberate throughout the nation, affecting the public and private sectors and everyday citizens. The individuals who uphold this institution must reflect the diversity from which our country draws its strength.

Obama should seize the opportunity to build on his message of inclusion and fairness. The president can make more than a historic appointment – he can set the tone for our children and generations to come.

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