She's in

Obama congratulates and welcomes Sonia Sotomayor to the big bench

Published August 12, 2009 6:10PM (EDT)

The newest member of the Supreme Court was welcomed to the bench today by the man who appointed her. President Barack Obama held a brief ceremony in the East Room of the White House to congratulate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

There's nothing earth-shattering in either of their prepared statements, but this little segment from her remarks is worth reading:

Mr. President, I have the most heartfelt appreciation for the trust that you've placed in me by nominating me. And I want to convey my thanks to the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairperson Leahy, for conducting a respectful and timely hearing, and to all members of the Senate for approving the President's selection. I am so grateful to all of you for this extraordinary opportunity.

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.

It's standard operating procedure to marvel at the Constitution and how great and open and opportunity-filled America is. Lots of politicians and appointees say such things. It just rings a little more true when the first Latina Supreme Court justice, rather than the latest hotshot Federalist Society lawyer, says it.

Bring on her wise Latina jurisprudence. Now, please, get to work, Justice Sotomayor.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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