Washington D.C. – Vice President Joseph Biden has chosen Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to swear him in at the Inauguration later this month, said the Presidential Inaugural Committee on Friday.
Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the high court, will be the first Hispanic and fourth female judge in U.S. history to administer an oath of office, according to the announcement.
"It's an incredible honor to have Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor swear me in,” Biden said. “I believed strongly that she would make a great Justice, and it was one of the greatest pleasures of my career to be involved in her selection to the Court."
“From the first time I met her, I was impressed by Justice Sotomayor’s commitment to justice and opportunity for all Americans, and she continues to exemplify those values today. Above all, I’m happy for the chance to be sworn in by a friend – and someone I know will continue to do great things.”
It was one of the greatest pleasures of my career to be involved in [Sonia Sotomayor's] selection to the Court.
- Vice President Joseph Biden
The prominent role of a Latina at the Inauguration is a nod to some degree, perhaps, to the critical role Hispanics played in the Nov. 6 elections that gave President Barack Obama a victory. Latinos turned out in record numbers, accounting for 10 percent of voters; 71 percent voted for Obama over his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney.
Latinos also made history in congressional races. The 113th Congress, which convened Thursday, included more Latinos than ever, with three in the U.S. Senate and 28 in the House of Representatives.
Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009. It was a remarkable moment for a woman who was born in the South Bronx to Juan and Celina Sotomayor, both of Puerto Rican descent. Sotomayor’s mother was a methadone clinic nurse, and her father was a tool-and-die worker who died when Sotomayor was just nine years old.
Sotomayor has said that her mother doggedly pushed her two children to get a college education. Sotomayor began dreaming of becoming a judge someday after watching the TV show “Perry Mason,” in which the main character was a defense attorney.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the Pyne Prize, university's highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a degree from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–1998. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. will administer the oath of office for President Barack Obama, which follows precedent. But Biden personally selected Sotomayor to swear him in, the Inaugural committee said.
The Inaugural swearing-in ceremonies will take place on Sunday, Jan. 20 and Monday, Jan. 21.
The Jan. 20 ceremony will the official swearing-in, and be a private affair. The Jan. 21 ceremony will be public and take place on the West Front of the United States Capitol.
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente