Since the President made so much of biography in introducing his Supreme Court nominee, every facet of Sonia Sotomayor’s life seems up for discussion, including her marital history.
Divorced in her twenties, the new Justice would be taking over what is being called “the single seat” on the Court from David Souter, a bachelor. At her 1994 appellate confirmation hearing, Sotomayor introduced a fiancé who subsequently faded from the picture.
If matrimonial status has any bearing on Supreme Court deliberations, the new nominee is at the far end of the spectrum from William O. Douglas, who served longer than any other Justice (almost 37 years) and was married four times, going through three divorces while on the Court.
Yet Sotomayor shares with Douglas a background of extreme poverty after the early death of a father, in his case working as a waiter, janitor and cherry picker on the West Coast, where he saw “cruelty and hardness” by police against migrant laborers and “Chicanos.”
Those experiences informed Douglas’ work on the Court, which eventually resulted in an unsuccessful impeachment attempt in 1970, led by Rep. (later President) Gerald R. Ford, who attacked his “liberal opinions” and lifestyle.