She worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1979 to 1984 and as an associate and then partner in the New York law firm of Pavia & Harcourt until 1992. That year, Republican President George H.W. Bush appointed her to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court in Manhattan and, in 1998, Democratic President Clinton tapped her to move up to the U.S. Court of Appeals, also in Manhattan.
"Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich," Sotomayor said.
After noting some of her career highlights, she added that the culmination of her personal and professional experiences help her appreciate the "variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear" and 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."
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., praised Sotomayor's record as "exemplary," and said he believes "Judge Sotomayor understands that the courthouse doors must be as open to ordinary Americans as they are to government and big corporations."
Additionally, Leahy said, "having a Supreme Court that better reflects the diversity of America helps ensure that we keep faith with the words engraved in Vermont marble over the entrance of the Supreme Court: 'Equal justice under law.'"
Obama this morning highlighted his key qualities of a justice: "A rigorous intellect, a mastery of the law, an ability to hone in on the key issues and provide clear answers to complex legal questions" and a recognition of the limits of a judge's role "an understanding that a judge's job is to interpret, not make law, to approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."
But some of the qualities Obama said he sought out and Sotomayor seems to possess have raised concern among conservative lawmakers, who claim that they are merely code for liberal activism and creating law instead of interpreting it.
Joining Sessions, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said senators will treat Sotomayor fairly, "But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Sotomayor is a far left liberal with activist goals.
"The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bi-partisan way were mere rhetoric," Huckabee said in a statement that mistook the nominee's first name. "Sotomayor comes from the far left and will likely leave us with something akin to the 'Extreme Court' that could mark a major shift."
Limbaugh agreed, saying, "She is a hack, like he (Obama) is a hack in the sense that the court is a place to be used to make policy, not to adjudicate cases."