Sotomayor Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice


It's Justice Sotomayor now.

Sonia Sotomayor has been sworn in as the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice. She's only the third female justice in the court's 220-year history.

Sotomayor took the second of two oaths of office Saturday from Chief Justice John Roberts in an ornate conference room at the high court, beneath a portrait of the legendary Chief Justice John Marshall. She swore a first oath in a private ceremony minutes earlier.

Sotomayor's mother, brother, other relatives and friends joined her for the occasion.

In one oath, she promised to support and defend the Constitution. In the second, she pledged to "administer justice" fairly and impartially.

Sotomayor is President Obama's first appointment to the nine-member top U.S. court. As a successor to liberal Justice David Souter, who retired, she is not expected to alter the court's ideological balance.

Sotomayor, 55, has been a federal judge for 17 years. Obama nominated her in May, and the Senate confirmed Sotomayor's nomination Thursday by a 68-31 vote.

On Saturday, in a private ceremony in the justices' conference room, Roberts administered an oath that the Constitution requires of all federal officials, to "support and defend" the Constitution. Then, in a public ceremony, he gave Sotomayor a second oath in which she pledges to "administer justice" fairly and impartially, as prescribed by a 220-year-old federal law.

Obama scheduled a White House reception for Sotomayor on Wednesday.

Sotomayor can get to work after she takes the oaths, although the court won't hear arguments until Sept. 9, in a key campaign finance case.

The entire court will convene a day earlier, however, for a formal ceremony to welcome Sotomayor. Many presidents have been on hand to see their nominees take their seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time. President George W. Bush attended Roberts' ceremony in October 2005.

Sotomayor is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a housing project in New York City's gritty South Bronx neighborhood and educated at the elite universities Princeton and Yale before going on to success in the legal profession and then the federal bench.