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Top 20 US Progressives: Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice.

Subjective as it sounds, the US constitution ruling that judges "shall hold their offices during good behaviour" is understood to mean lifetime tenure. Following the retirement from the Supreme Court of the reliably liberal Justice David Souter in 2009, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a judge of the second circuit court of appeals. She was duly voted in on party lines, becoming the Supreme Court's third female and first ever Hispanic member.

It has been said that Sotomayor has lived the American dream: born in a Bronx housing project, full scholarships to Princeton and Yale, judiciary seat nominations from three presidents. In a court dominated by elderly, white, male conservatives, her contentious claim that a "wise Latina" would bring a different perspective to judgments on sensitive matters - such as video-game violence and whether corporations deserve the free-speech rights that human beings enjoy - is being tested regularly. Here's to her best behaviour.

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This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama