Sonia Sotomayor: A Justice Like No Other

In Sonia Sotomayor, Obama makes a historic choice for the court. What her extraordinary life says about the kind of Justice she would be

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for Time

The President with Sotomayor, the first Hispanic female to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Perhaps. But for all the controversy or appeal that sentiment may arouse, it's not a useful guide to how Sotomayor has ruled. Like that of most lower-court judges, much of her history on the bench has involved minute applications of the law, not the kind of cases in which life experience, even when it is as inspiring as hers, would have offered much guidance. There tend to be more cases of the big-picture kind on the Supreme Court, and if she gets there, she may take the opportunity to become the passionate liberal she has never really been on the lower benches. First, of course, she has to get there. But one thing that everybody agrees on about Sotomayor: all her life, she's been very good at getting places.

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