A Reception for the New Justice
August 12, 2009
11:51 AM EDT
11:51 AM EDT
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In the East Room of the White House, the President and the First Lady hosted a reception to celebrate some history being made. Members of Justice Sotomayor's family and friends, leaders of the Hispanic community, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, judges from the federal Courts of Appeals, and others inspired by the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gathered for a reception, and to hear a few words from the President and America’s first Hispanic Justice.
The President thanked all who worked hard to ensure that she was given a fair hearing, from Members of the Senate Judiciary and Senate Leadership, to Senator Bob Menendez Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, to Justice Sotomayor's family who helped mold her into the amazing figure she is today. Saying that the Senate "looked beyond the old divisions and they embraced excellence," he praised them for looking past old divisions and breaking down yet another historical barrier.
The President once again recounted Justice Sotomayor’s "only in America story," coming from humble beginnings in the Bronx to a stellar career in the law, and her gratefulness for the opportunities her country afforded her along that journey:
Because while this is Justice Sotomayor's achievement – the result of her ability and determination – this moment is not just about her. It's about every child who will grow up thinking to him or herself, if Sonia Sotomayor can make it, then maybe I can, too. (Applause.) It's about every mother or father who looks at the sacrifices Justice Sotomayor's mother made, and the successes she and her brother have had, and thinks, I may not have much in my own life, but if I work hard enough, maybe my kids can have more. It's about everyone in this nation facing challenges and struggles in their lives, who hear Justice Sotomayor's story and thinks to themselves, if she could overcome so much and go so far, then why can't I?
Nearly 80 years ago, as the cornerstone was laid for the building that became our Supreme Court, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes declared, "The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith."
Justice Sotomayor's rise from humble beginnings to the height of achievement is yet another symbol of that faith – faith that the American Dream still endures; faith that "equal justice under the law" is not just an inscription in marble, but an animating ideal of our democracy; faith that in this great nation, all things are still possible for all people.
This is a great day for America, and I know that all of us here are proud and honored to have been a part of it.
He then introduced Justice Sotomayor, who echoes many of the same themes in her remarks:
I am most grateful to this country. I stand here today knowing that my confirmation as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court would never have been possible without the opportunities presented to me by this nation. More than two centuries ago, in a Constitution that contains fewer than 5,000 words, our founders set forth their vision for this new land. Their self-proclaimed task was to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, and to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity. Over the years, the ideals at the heart of that document have endured, as subsequent generations have expanded those blessings, these rights and freedoms to more and more Americans.
Our Constitution has survived domestic and international tumult, including a civil war, two world wars, and the catastrophe of September 11th. It draws together people of all races, faiths, and backgrounds from all across this country who carry its words and values in our heart. It is this nation's faith in a more perfect union that allows a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx to stand here now. (Applause.)
I am struck again today by the wonder of my own life, and the life we in America are so privileged to lead. In reflecting on my life experiences, I am thinking also today of the judicial oath of office that I first took almost two decades ago, and that I reiterated this past weekend – to judge without respect to what a person looks like, where they come from, or whether they are rich or poor, and to treat all persons as equal under the law. That is what our system of justice requires, and it is the foundation of the American people's faith in the rule of law, and it is why I am so passionate about the law.
I am deeply humbled by the sacred responsibility of upholding our laws and safeguarding the rights and freedoms set forth in our Constitution. I ask not just my family and friends, but I ask all Americans, to wish me divine guidance and wisdom in administering my new office.
I thank you all again for the love and support you have shown me. And I thank President Obama and the United States Senate for the tremendous honor and privilege they have granted me. Thank you. (Applause.)
Related Topics: Civil Rights