7 Aug 2009

Senate clears Sotomayor for US Supreme Court

8:48 pm on 7 August 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic confirmed by the Senate for the United States Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Democratic-led Senate voted largely along party lines, 68-31, to approve President Barack Obama's choice of Judge Sotomayor for the lifetime job.

When sworn in, the 55-year-old federal appeals judge will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest US court.

The 220-year old court serves as the final arbiter of the US constitution and is called upon to decide feuds on volatile issues like gun rights and abortion.

Judge Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was not expected to tilt the balance of the court she replaces the retiring justice David Souter in October.

She will join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the only other woman currently on the high bench. The first woman ever to serve as a justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, announced her retirement in 200