September 2, 2015

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Amherst College will welcome United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Johnson Chapel on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. for remarks and a question-and-answer session. Though the schedule for her visit to Massachusetts is very tight, she has generously included the College in her itinerary. The event will last for one hour and will be open on a first-come, first-served basis for Amherst College students, faculty and staff with a College ID. Please note: This event will start promptly at 7 p.m. and conclude promptly at 8 p.m.

Because of Justice Sotomayor’s special interest in talking with students, the majority of seats will be reserved for students until 6:45 p.m., after which they will be released to anyone else from campus. The public is welcome to attend the live stream of the event at Stirn Auditorium on the Amherst campus. This event will also be recorded and posted afterward for a limited time on a password-protected page for all members of the College community, including our alumni, to enjoy.

“We are honored that Justice Sotomayor will be speaking at Amherst,” said Amherst College President Biddy Martin. “Justice Sotomayor is greatly admired for the courage and wisdom she has shown over time as a jurist and a champion for equal rights and social justice. We look forward to hosting her at the College.”

Sotomayor is the 111th justice to serve on the Supreme Court, and the first Hispanic and third woman to ascend to the nation’s highest judicial body. Her dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2014), which upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of race-based criteria in college admissions, has been of particular interest to higher education. “In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

During the coming term, the Court will consider such consequential cases as Fisher v. the University of Texas, about admissions practices and race; Kansas v. Carr, about capital sentencing; and Green v. Brennan, about employee discrimination regulations.

Justice Sotomayor was born in Bronx, N.Y., on June 25, 1954. She earned a B.A. in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office from 1979–84. She then litigated international commercial matters in New York City at Pavia & Harcourt, where she served as an associate and then partner from 1984–92. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–98. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.