The Latino community in New York has been following Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination closely, and Thursday's Senate confirmation vote was no exception. Ny1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
They watched the TV screen intently as one of their own was about to break new ground. Latina judges and and other members of the legal community gathered at the offices of Latino Justice PRLDEF in TriBeCa, formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, to witness the Senate vote. Those who attended exploded with emotion with Sonia Sotomayor's approval as a Supreme Court Justice.
"She represents us. We are just so proud of her," said New York State Court of Claims Judge Faviola Soto.
"Our hearts are bursting with pride and joy. This day means that hard work and commitment will reap rewards for you," said Bronx Civil Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.
Sotomayor was on the board of PRLDEF for 12 years from 1980 to 1992. It's a civil rights group that has long advocated for a Hispanic to become a Supreme Court Justice. When Sotomayor was nominated, the group followed every step of the way.
"I don't think Puerto Ricans and Latinos in New York City ever thought that they'd see one of their own become a member of what is the most exclusive club, the most powerful club in America, the nine members of the Supreme Court. No one is more deserving that Sonia Sotomayor," said Latino Justice PRLDEF President Cesar Perales.
Sotomayor's ties to PRLDEF came up many times during the confirmation hearings as Senators challenged what some called her "activism". But the group says it's glad the majority of Senators saw PRLDEF for its positive role in the lives of Latinos -- a role that Sotomayor helped to shape.
"What I thought was most important is how much she cared about creating young Latino lawyers," Perales said. "She devoted so much of her time. She was on our committee to make sure we would attract more people into the profession."
"This is a tremendously moving moment for me. Especially because my grandfather was the first latino from the Bronx to become a judge," said Bronx Supreme Court Judge Analisa Torres.
At a viewing party across town, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn offered up congratulatory remarks for her neighbor.
"It's a wonderful day for New York," Quinn said. "The judge is actually my constituent in the West Village so my district's loss is the country's gain."