Pres. Barack Obama's pick of Sonia Sotomayor as the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court won praise from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee that will oversee her confirmation hearings.
If chosen, Sotomayor would replace Justice David Souter, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Sotomayor is currently a judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, a district that includes federal cases appealed from Vermont courts. She's served in that role for 11 years.
Pres. Obama informed Leahy of the news during a brief phone interview this morning. Leahy is visiting US troops in Afghanistan.
Sotomayor has been nominated by both Democratic and Republican presidents, and she was twice confirmed by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support, Leahy noted.
"Her record is exemplary," Leahy continued. "Judge Sotomayor’s nomination is an historic one, and when confirmed she will become the first Hispanic justice, and just the third woman to sit on the nation’s highest court. Having a Supreme Court that better reflects the diversity of America helps ensure that we keep faith with the words engraved in Vermont marble over the entrance of the Supreme Court: 'Equal justice under law.'"
Leahy added, "I believe Judge Sotomayor understands that the courthouse doors must be as open to ordinary Americans as they are to government and big corporations."