Previewing the U.S. Supreme Court’s New Term

It’s October and memories of summer fun are fading. Students are working hard at the start of a new school year, baseball season is ending, and football season is in full swing. In Washington, D.C., there’s another new season as the Supreme Court of the United States begins its new term. Traditionally, the Court’s term begins the first Monday in October. With the beginning of this term, Americans will meet the first Latina justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

New Term, New Court

Justice Sotomayor is the 111th person to serve on the Supreme Court and only the third woman. She is taking the place of retiring Justice David Souter. Like the other justices, she will have four law clerks to help her with her work. The law clerks are usually recent law school graduates who did extraordinarily well in law school. Most have already clerked for another judge—usually a federal court of appeals judge—for one year.

Justice Sotomayor grew up in New York City and attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. After her graduation from law school, she served as a prosecutor in New York City and also worked for a law firm before being appointed as a federal judge in 1992. She comes to the Supreme Court with a great deal of experience both as a lawyer and as a judge. Whenever a new justice joins the Court, it changes the way the justices interact. It’s like losing a member of your family (Souter) and having a new member join your family (Sotomayor). So everyone, including the justices, is waiting to see how her arrival changes this institution.

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