President Obama announced Tuesday morning that federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor is his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Praising her as "an inspiring woman" in his introduction, Obama said she had more experience than anyone on the court and has earned the "respect of colleagues on the bench," the admiration of lawyers and "the adoration of her clerks." He highlighted the barriers she faced in making it to this position, including her diabetes.
"My heart today is bursting with gratitude," Sotomayor said when she took the podium. The judge gave a touching tribute to her mother, telling the audience, "I have often said that I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is."
Sotomayor's full remarks:
I was just counseled not to be nervous.
That's almost impossible.
Thank you, Mr. President, for the most humbling honor of my life. You have nominated me to serve on the country's highest court, and I am deeply moved.
I could not, in the few minutes I have today, mention the names of the many friends and family who have guided and supported me throughout my life, and who have been instrumental in helping me realize my dreams.
I see many of those faces in this room. Each of you, whom I love deeply, will know that my heart today is bursting with gratitude for all you have done for me.
The president has said to you that I bring my family. In the audience is my brother, Juan Sotomayor -- he's a physician in Syracuse, New York; my sister-in-law, Tracey; my niece, Kylie -- she looks like me. My twin nephews, Conner and Corey.
I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration. That person is my mother, Celina Sotomayor.
My mother has devoted her life to my brother and me. And as the president mentioned, she worked often two jobs to help support us after dad died. I have often said that I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is.
Sitting next to her is Omar Lopez, my mom's husband and a man whom I have grown to adore. I thank you for all that you have given me and continue to give me. I love you.
I chose to be a lawyer and ultimately a judge because I find endless challenge in the complexities of the law. I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights.
For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired by the achievement of our founding fathers. They set forth principles that have endured for than more two centuries. Those principles are as meaningful and relevant in each generation as the generation before.
It would be a profound privilege for me to play a role in applying those principles to the questions and controversies we face today.
Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich. I was raised in a Bronx public housing project, but studied at two of the nation's finest universities.
I did work as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting violent crimes that devastate our communities. But then I joined a private law firm and worked with international corporations doing business in the United States.
I have had the privilege of serving as a federal district court trial judge, and am now serving as a federal appellate circuit court judge.
This wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. It has helped me to understand, respect and respond to the concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me, as well as to the views of my colleagues on the bench.
I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.
It is a daunting feeling to be here. Eleven years ago, during my confirmation process for appointment to the Second Circuit, I was given a private tour of the White House. It was an overwhelming experience for a kid from the South Bronx.
Yet, never in my wildest childhood imaginings did I ever envision that moment, let alone did I ever dream that I would live this moment.
Mr. President, I greatly appreciate the honor you are giving me, and I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. I hope that as the Senate and American people learn more about me, they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences.
Thank you again, sir.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Read more about her judicial and personal history here.