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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Confirmed: Sonia Sotomayor and Latino Political Incorporation


This essay explores how the 2009 confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor once again transformed the process to become a Supreme Court Justice as new political fault lines reached the nation’s highest court. Although the majority of political supporters emphasized Sotomayor’s individual and professional qualifications as the crucial factors that made her confirmable, what ultimately became confirmed through her appointment was the increasing, if uncomfortable, weight of Latino identity as a relevant category of social difference in contemporary American politics. This essay engages with the confirmation process’s discarded and expanded plotlines to produce an acceptable story, in order to understand Sotomayor’s appointment not simply as the culmination of Latino achievement or collective empowerment but as a way to assess the current price of the ticket for Latino political incorporation.

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