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Bronx-Born Judge Eyed To Succeed Supreme Court Justice

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Bronx-born Judge Sonia Sotomayor was considered Friday to be a possible replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Souter, 69, seen right, announced Friday that he would be leaving the court after nearly two decades in Washington, D.C. He was nominated by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

President Barack Obama promised to have Souter's successor ready to be seated by October, when the next term begins. He says he'll select someone who shares his respect for "constitutional values."

"He approaches judging like he approaches life - with a feverish work ethic and a good sense of humor, with integrity and equanimity and compassion. The hallmark of not only being a good judge, but a good person," said the president.

It is believed that Obama will strongly consider a woman for the post.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been a federal judge since 1991 and joined the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Congressman Anthony Weiner already sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to strongly consider Sotomayor. Weiner said she would fill the void of an underrepresented group and has the career record to back it up.

During a Friday interview on NY1's "Road To City Hall," Senator Charles Schumer expressed his support.

"I like diversity," said Schumer. "A large number of the judges I have appointed, now these are to the district and court of appeals - the two lower levels of the federal court below the Supreme [Court], have been African-American, Hispanic women because I like to see diversity on the bench. Obviously, Judge Sotomayor meets those qualities."

Schumer sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on the president's nominee.

Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx projects, graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School and then went to Princeton and Yale Law School.

"Perry Mason was the first exposure I had to lawyers," said Sotomayor in a 1999 NY1 interview. "There were no lawyers in my family and no lawyers among my friends that my family knew, so television was my first real opportunity to see what a lawyer was and did. "

She then worked with the Manhattan district attorney and in private practice before President George H. W. Bush appointed her to the federal bench.

Spellman alumni and Sotomayor's former classmates gathered in their old high school on Friday to look through old yearbooks and remember the young judge's hardworking ways.

"From the very beginning, Sonia was outstanding and you could see she had the potential to be someone really big," said Renee Fiorenza, a 1972 Spellman graduate.

"She always, always had a presence where young people could listen to her. And young people did listen to her, me being one of them," said Geri Faulkner, a 1975 Spellman graduate.

Sotomayor served on the board of directors of of Latino Justice, formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, for years.

"I think that no one sees her as extreme. They see her as a smart judge, as somebody who's thoughtful, who cares about the law," said Latino Justice President Cesar Peralta.

Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, which has great meaning to Latino advocates.

"We are a part of the United States and being part of the highest court in the land is an important symbolic thing for our community," said President Angelo Falcon of the National Institute for Latino Policy. "But she is, as I've said, a very productive, very thoughtful judicial person."

Were Sotomayor to be appointed, she would be the second woman on the nine-person court, beside 76-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been battling cancer for some time.

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