Power Point: Make the most of the extraordinary

May 27, 2009, 2:07 AM UTC
Fortune

“I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences.”

— Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, in a press conference following the announcement of her nomination Tuesday. The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Sotomayor was born in the Bronx and grew up in a housing project near Yankee Stadium. After her father passed away when she was nine years old, her mother worked two jobs to support her children. During her confirmation process for her appointment to the Second Circuit, Sotomayor shared the story of receiving a private tour of the White House 11 years ago: “It was an overwhelming experience for a kid from the South Bronx. Yet, never in my wildest childhood imaginings did I ever envision that moment, let alone did I ever dream that I would live this moment.”

Given her humble beginnings and broad experience — she has worked at nearly every level of the judicial system — Sotomayor seems equipped with a quality held in high esteem by the President: empathy. In addition to demonstrating it himself, as Pattie writes here,  Obama hinted that his replacement for Justice Souter would possess the “quality of empathy” — “an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes,” he said. — Jessica Shambora