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Supreme Court Justices: Demographic Characteristics, Professional Experience, and Legal Education, 1789-2010 By Susan Navarro Smelcer, Congressional Research Service
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On May 1, 2009, Justice David H. Souter announced his retirement as an Associate Justice when the U.S. Supreme Court recessed for the summer. To fill this vacancy, President Barack Obama selected... More > Sonia Sotomayor, a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In announcing the nomination, President Obama noted her Ivy League education and extensive judicial experience. President Obama also emphasized Sotomayor’s life story, discussing in particular her upbringing as a child of Puerto Rican born parents in a Bronx housing project. The Sotomayor nomination prompted renewed discussion among Senators, media commentators, and scholars regarding racial, ethnic, gender, religious, professional, and educational diversity on the Court. With the upcoming retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, announced on April 9, 2010, this discussion is likely to be renewed. With his departure, the Court will lose its only protestant Christian member.< Less