Sotomayor Confirmation

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HNBA SUPREME COURT ADVOCACY

For decades, the HNBA has led advocacy efforts in support of Hispanic representation on the federal bench, including the United States Supreme Court. As the “national voice of the Hispanic legal community” in the United States and Puerto Rico, the HNBA is invested in promoting a fair, independent and diverse judiciary that reflects the rich tapestry of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, experiences and interest that characterize the American population. The HNBA believes that judicial deliberations that include people of diverse backgrounds and views benefit all Americans because they result in better decisions – in a stronger jurisprudence more likely to deliver on the promise of “equal justice under law.” Broader inputs result in stronger outputs.

THE NOMINATION OF THE HON. SONIA SOTOMAYOR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Soon after President Obama’s election, HNBA President Ramona E. Romero (2008-2009) wrote to him to appoint Latinos to the federal bench, urging him to nominate Hispanics for appointment to the bench and the Executive Branch, and to make history by nominating the first Hispanic American Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. That letter was followed by other communications, both formal and informal with the transition team and, after the inauguration, with the White House. These communications included both meetings with White House Counsel and other senior personnel, letters and discussions.

On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor marked a major milestone in American history when President Barack H. Obama announced his intent to nominate her to the Supreme Court of the United States. The HNBA was represented at this historic announcement at the White House by Liz Lopez, HNBA Vice President of External Affairs.

THE 2008-2009 SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

Anticipating a Supreme Court vacancy during President Obama’s first term, HNBA National PresidentRomero asked Carlos Ortiz and Robert Raben to co-chair a Special Committee on the U.S. Supreme Court (”Committee”) focused on the development and implementation of our Association’s advocacy strategy for the nomination of a Hispanic American to the high court. Carlos is a former HNBA National President, now the General Counsel at Goya Foods, and led the HNBA’s Supreme Court effort during the Clinton Administration, and Robert is the founder of The Raben Group, a well-respected, bi-partisan advocacy firm in Washington, DC.

The Committee also includes six other former HNBA National Presidents who served over the last 25 years — namely, Gilbert Casellas, Mark Gallegos, Dolores Atencio, Mary Hernandez, Greg Vega, and Lillian Apodaca, – and University of Houston law Professor Michael Olivas.

The Committee developed and implemented a plan to identify potential Hispanic American nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, educate the public on the need for and importance of that nomination, and advocate for appointment of a Latino or Latina.

After the nomination of the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the Committee commissioned a group of law professors to review and analyze approximately one hundred of Judge Sotomayor’s key cases with a particular emphasis on areas of law and issues of concern to Latinos in the United States. The Committee also reviewed many of the Hon. Sotomayor’s speeches and writings.

Based on the Committee’s review of her record, all 27 living past presidents of the HNBA signed a statement in support of Judge Sotomayor’s fair and expeditious confirmation.

HNBA ONLY NATIONAL LATINO ORGANIZATION TO TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF THE CONFIRMATION OF THE HON. SONIA SOTOMAYOR

On July 16, 2009, HNBA President Romero testified in support of the confirmation of the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The HNBA was the only national Latino organization to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In attendance at the Senate Judiciary hearing were nine past HNBA National Presidents, including Mari Carmen Aponte, Lillian Apodaca, Lorenzo Arrendondo, Dolores Atencio, Jimmie Gurule, Mary Hernandez, Carlos Ortiz, Jimmie Reyna and Robert Ruiz. Other HNBA representatives included Roman D. Hernandez, HNBA President Elect, Professor Jenny Rivera and Maria Gonzalez Calvet, HNBA counsel for purposes of the Senate Judiciary hearing.

HNBA supported the Hon. Sotomayor’s confirmation because she was unquestionably well-qualified under the objective and subjective standards that have traditionally been applied to Supreme Court nominees. The HNBA based its endorsement on its due diligence evaluation of her credentials, judicial record and reputation.

HNBA was already familiar with the Hon. Sotomayor’s impressive background and jurisprudence. She was on a “Short List” of eight potential Supreme Court nominees that the HNBA submitted to President Bush in 2005 after conducting substantial due diligence on their backgrounds and careers. HNBA also reviewed her credentials and endorsed her when she was nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and for the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Hon. Sotomayor has been a distinguished member of the Hispanic legal community and HNBA honored her as its Judge of the Year in 2004 and Latina of Year (Judiciary) 2005.

U.S. SENATE CONFIRMS THE HON. SONIA SOTOMAYOR AS THE FIRST HISPANIC TO SERVE ON THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

On August 6, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 68-31 vote. In attendance at the Senate Judiciary vote were HNBA President Romero, Past HNBA President Mari Carmen Aponte and Liz Lopez, HNBA Vice President of External Affairs.

SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF THE HON. SONIA SOTOMAYOR TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

On August 8, 2009, the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the 111th Justice of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roberts administered the 62-word oath required of all federal judges. This was the first televised Supreme Court ceremony. President Romero was in attendance at this ceremony.

MEDIA OUTREACH

Because all public education effort requires extensive media outreach, President Romero and Liz Lopez, HNBA Vice President of External Affairs, along with other HNBA leaders, provided commentary and background information for numerous national and local media outlets. The HNBA collected a sampling of links to articles, videos and radio interviews on our website. They can be viewed on the right under the section “Media Coverage.”

Testimony of HNBA President Ramona E. Romero before the Senate Judiciary Committee
HNBA Letter signed by 27 living HNBA Presidents
HNBA Written Statement in Support of the Confirmation of the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor
HNBA Letter to President Obama
Media Coverage
August 8, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
Fox News Channel
August 8, 2009
Liz Lopez
WNBC New York
August 8, 2009
Liz Lopez
CNN En Español
August 7, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS National
August 6, 2009
Román D. Hernández
KOIN Portland
August 5, 2009
Liz Lopez
Univision, Noticias Chicago
July 15, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
NY 1 Noticias
July 13, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
Univision Noticias National
July 12, 2009
Mari Carmen Aponte
CNN En Español
July 10, 2009
Liz Lopez
Telemundo Noticiero
June 29, 2009
Liz Lopez
Telemundo Noticiero
May 28, 2009
Liz Lopez
Telemundo Noticiero
May 26, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
NBC Philly
May 26, 2009
Liz Lopez
CNN En Español
May 15, 2009
Ramona E. Romero
Univision Noticias
May 1, 2009
Liz Lopez
CNN En Español
Press Releases
August 6, 2009: HNBA Member Judge Sonia M. Sotomayor Confirmed as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
July 8, 2009: HNBA Announces Endorsement of the Honorable Sonia M. Sotomayor
July 7, 2009: HNBA and Twenty-Five Preeminent National Hispanic Advocacy Organizations Decry Senator Sessions’ Mischaracterization of LatinoJustice PRLDEF
May 26, 2009:HNBA Congratulates President Obama for Nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States
May 13, 2009: HNBA Issues List of Hispanic American Jurists and Statement Concerning a Hispanic American to the U.S. Supreme Court
May 1, 2009: HNBA Commends Justice Souter For His Service and Urges President Obama to Nominate a Hispanic American to the U.S. Supreme Court