Occupation: Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Previous TIME 100 Appearances: 0
When President Obama first nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court to fill retiring Justice David Souter's spot, gleeful conservatives were convinced they had a good old-fashioned brawl on their hands. Unfortunately for them, Sotomayor's confirmation hearings turned out to be anticlimatic snoozers as Senators rifled through her long and impressive career. Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was first nominated to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush nearly two decades ago and was promoted to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. Hers is a classic American tale: her father was a tool-and-die worker who had a third-grade education and didn't speak English; her mother was a telephone operator. She was the first in her family to go to college and since her confirmation to the Supreme Court has redefined "wise Latina."