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Was Benjamin Cardozo or Sonia Sotomayor the first Hispanic justice on the US Supreme Court?

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2011-05-27 12:45:48
2011-05-27 12:45:48

Sonia Sotomayor

The question of Justice Benjamin Cardozo's ethnic heritage has been a matter of controversy for years.

Cardozo's family immigrated to the American colonies in the 18th century from Holland and England, where they were established as citizens. The family identified themselves mainly as Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were from the Iberian Peninsula (modern Portugal and Spain), but believed they were of Portuguese descent. Nevertheless, the family tree contains some traditional Spanish surnames, such are Gomez, Menedes and Navarro, so their true ancestry, like many people's, is probably somewhat mixed.

According to the Portuguese Consul in Boston, Cardozo is a Portuguese name. Neither the Portuguese nor the Spanish consider those with Portuguese heritage Hispanic. The U.S. Census bureau also considers the Portuguese population to be distinct from the Hispanic population. The two nations have different cultures and speak different languages.

Cardozo attended the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, but did not belong to either Spanish- or Portuguese-national social groups. Since the term "Hispanic" was not widely used during his lifetime, Cardozo, himself, had nothing to say on the matter.

I think it is reasonable to classify Justice Sotomayor as the first Latina member of the Court because she clearly identifies herself closely with the Hispanic population, and because her ancestry can be traced directly and consistently to people of Spanish origin.

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So far, only one: Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Some people considered Justice Benjamin Cardozo the first Hispanic justice; however, Cardozo was of Portuguese, not Spanish, descent.

Sona Sotomayor is the first Hispanic to ever serve in the Supreme Court. Some people believe Justice Benjamin Cardozo was Hispanic; however, he was of Portuguese descent, which is considered a different ethnic group.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the US Supreme Court. Her appointment was confirmed on August 6, 2009.Some sources claim Benjamin Cardozo was the first Latino or Hispanic justice; however, Cardozo was a Sephardic Jew of Portuguese descent, which is considered neither Hispanic nor Latino.For more information, see Related Questions, below.

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We currently do, yes (assuming you are referring to the United States Supreme Court). Her name is Sonia Sotomayor, and she was nominated by President Barack Obama; she has served on the Court since August 2009. She had previously served as a judge and lawyer in several other positions, and was best known for filing an injunction that ended the 1995 Major League Baseball Strike -- earning her praise from some for having "saved baseball."Whether she is the first Hispanic justice actually sparked a brief discussion around the time of her nomination. A prior justice, Benjamin Cardozo, had been born to a family of Sephardic Jews originally from Portugal. The consensus, soon agreed upon, was that the term "Hispanic" must refer to someone whose heritage is in either Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America. Under that definition, Brazilians would not be Hispanic, and neither would Cardozo. Thus, Sotomayor is the first.

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Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic-American justice on the US Supreme Court, although some people believe the correct answer is Benjamin Cardozo.The question of Justice Benjamin Cardozo's ethnic heritage has been a matter of controversy for years.Cardozo's family immigrated to the American colonies in the 18th century from Holland and England, where they were established as citizens. The family identified themselves mainly as Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were from the Iberian Peninsula (modern Portugal and Spain), but believed they were of Portuguese descent. Nevertheless, the family tree contains some traditional Spanish surnames, such are Gomez, Menedes and Navarro, so their true ancestry, like many people's, is probably somewhat mixed.According to the Portuguese Consul in Boston, Cardozo is a Portuguese name. Neither the Portuguese nor the Spanish consider those with Portuguese heritage Hispanic. The U.S. Census bureau also considers the Portuguese population to be distinct from the Hispanic population. The two nations have different cultures and speak different languages.Cardozo attended the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, but did not belong to either Spanish- or Portuguese-national social groups. Since the term "Hispanic" was not widely used during his lifetime, Cardozo, himself, had nothing to say on the matter.I think it is reasonable to classify Justice Sotomayor as the first Latina member of the Court because she clearly identifies herself closely with the Hispanic population, and because her ancestry can be traced directly and consistently to people of Spanish origin.

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Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who formally joined the US Supreme Court on August 8, 2009, is the first Latina, or Hispanic woman, on the Court.

Sonia Maria SotomayorJustice Sotomayor is the first Latina justice to serve on the US Supreme Court; however, she is not the only Latina judge in the federal court system.

Benjamin Cardozo, a native New Yorker, had a heart attack in late 1937, and was invited to stay at the Port Chester home of his friend, Judge Irving Lehman, while he recovered. Cardozo and Lehman had served together on the New York Court of Appeals years earlier, and remained close throughout their careers. In early 1938, while still recovering from his MI, Cardozo suffered a stroke. He became weaker and more debilitated from that point, and died on July 9, 1938, at the age of 68. Along with Louis Brandeis, whom Cardozo admired and served with for years, Benjamin Cardozo is considered by many to be one of the greatest legal philosophers in the history of the US Supreme Court.

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Justice Sotomayor was 55 years old when President Obama appointed her to the US Supreme Court in August 2009.

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