EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor To Speak At NYU’s 2012 Commencement


As May creeps closer, many seniors have been wondering how the 2012 commencement speaker will be able to compare to last year’s speaker, former president Bill Clinton. The class of 2012 will not be disappointed at all, because NYU Local has learned that the speaker at this year’s commencement will be Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. 

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court and its third-ever woman. Fittingly for NYU, she is also  a complete and total New Yorker. A self-described “Nuyorican,” Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx, roots for the Yankees, and eats pizza at Grimaldi’s. She started her law career here, too, in the Manhattan district attorney’s office in 1979.

From 1998-2007, Sotomayor was an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, teaching trial and appellate advocacy and a federal appellate court seminar.

When President Obama nominated her to the bench in 2009, he sparked a heated 10-week racially-tinged confirmation battle that was won by a Senate vote largely along party lines. Her first case on the Court was the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which famously established ‘corporate personhood’ and allowed for super PACs, or essentially unlimited campaign finance by corporations. Sotomayor cast a dissenting vote in that case.

The list of honorary doctorate recipients for NYU’s 2012 commencement is also really impressive. David Brooks, New York Times columnist and author, will accept the first degree. Like Brooks, French priest and founder of Yahad-In Unum, Patrick Desbois will also accept a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. And Charles Weissmann, a molecular biologist and chairman of infectology at Scripps Florida, will receive a Doctor of Science degree.

Matriarch of the Hasbro family, international philanthropist, and NYU Medical Center trustee Sylvia Hassenfeld will receive the “Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society.” Emily Rafferty, the president of The Metropolitain Museum of Art, will receive the “Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City.”

Congrats, seniors, this will be a heck of a graduation.

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