Sotomayor: Affirmative Action 'Changed the Course of My Life'

The justice acknowledges the role affirmative action has had in her life.

Jan 14, 2013— -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one tough cookie. Through her humble beginnings in Bronx public housing and a lifelong struggle with Type I diabetes, Sotomayor has risen to become one of the nation's most prominent Latinos.

Her success is no doubt a testament to her hard work and sacrifice. That's what a new memoir, "My Beloved World," is about.

"I am the most obstinate person you will ever meet. I have a streak of stubbornness in me that I think is what has accounted for some of my success in life," she told CBS's Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes. "There is some personal need to persevere, to fight the fight. And if you just try and be stubborn about trying you can do what you set your mind to."

The program discussed Sotomayor's personal story and what influenced her on the way to becoming the country's first Hispanic justice. She touched on how episodes of "Perry Mason" inspired her to pursue a career as an attorney, after she was told her diabetes would block her from becoming a cop -- her first choice.

Perhaps most notable was how Sotomayor acknowledged the role affirmative action has had in her life.

The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, she related how the school nurse was upset that she was selected by Princeton University over the top two students in her class. She didn't even know what affirmative action was at the time, but was impacted by the anger she faced at that moment and for years to come.

This is not the first time she's spoken about affirmative action. Her previous remarks from the bench became a point of contention for conservatives during her nomination in 2009.

In her recent interview, she would not comment on an upcoming case, Fisher v. University of Texas, where a white woman is suing the University of Texas and challenging if the consideration of race in admissions is constitutional.

"The affirmative action of today is very different than it was when I was going to school," she said. "And each school does it in a different way. I can't pass judgment on whether there's a role for it or not without it being seen as I'm making a comment on an existing case. But I do know that, for me, it was a door opener that changed the course of my life."