Chicago judge reacts to Sotomayor nomination

May 26, 2009 4:27:24 PM PDT
ABC7 has an exclusive interview with Judge Diane Wood on being considered for the job. President Barack Obama makes his decision - naming Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nation's first Hispanic - nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Appeals Court Judge Diane Wood of Chicago was also considered for the job.

She was considered one of the favorites because she was a colleague of the president at the University of Chicago.

Instead of preparing for Senate confirmation hearings, Judge Diane Wood is headed to teach a class.

"It's wonderful jut being considered. It's a great honor," said Judge Diana Wood on Tuesday afternoon. "It's something you've heard about before if you're in my position but living through it is a little different."

Appellate Court Judge Diane Wood's name was on the shortlist of her friend and former University of Chicago colleague, Barack Obama.

It was an edge in a race whose winner was almost guaranteed to be a woman. The President said from the start it was important for his nominee to have 'life experience' that influenced their work on the bench.

"Thank you Mr. President for the most humbling honor of my life," said Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court nominee.

Federal Appeals Court Sonia Sotomayor - from New York - fits the bill. Her family is from Puerto Rico. She was raised in a Bronx housing project who went on to attend Ivy League schools.

"She stands on her own," said Bernard Harcourt, University of Chicago law professor.

U. of C. law professor Bernard Harcourt's father hired Sotomayor to work at his small firm in the late 80's.

"She had a very strong sense - and still does - of public interest and concern for different communities," said Harcourt.

"As a community whose political and economic power is increasing, it's important to have Supreme Court nominee who has past growing up in extreme poverty, obstacles. She is a great success story," said Monica Torres-Linares, Hispanic Lawyers Association.

"I think it's a mistake for the Republican primary to whip up the base based on a nomination of this kind. She's not going to be controversial, I don't think. They'll have a hard time attacking her," said Jim Thompson, former Illinois governor.

While the President's pick was a disappointment to this Hinsdale native, court watchers say Judge Diane Wood's name may still one day be called. There could be as many two more vacancies on the high court in the coming years.

"Let just say, I wouldn't say no," said Judge Wood when asked if she's interested in other openings.

UofC reacts to SCOTUS nominee

Students and faculty at the University of Chicago reacted Tuesday to the president's choice of a New York judge for the nation's highest court.

There had been speculation that the president would select one of his former colleagues at the University of Chicago law school for the Supreme Court.

But there are some on the South Side campus who know the nominee.

It's the week before finals. But you'll excuse University of Chicago law students for being a bit distracted.

"It definitely would have been a rush for us knowing we were instructed by a Supreme Court justice. It was exciting for everybody," said Curtiss Schreiber, U of C law student.

Schreiber was among those rooting for the hometown finalist: Appellate Court Judge Diane Wood of Hinsdale. Students on campus say she's been surprisingly quiet about the selection process.

"She tries to keep it toned down, nobody asks her about it,.talks about it outside of class," said Gaston Rauch, Judge Wood's law student.

Judge Wood spent part of her weekend playing in a community orchestra where she is an accomplished oboist. The ABC7 I-Team reports federal agents fanned out across her neighborhood in recent weeks, asking friends and neighbors whether the federal appeals court jurist has any personal quirks, hidden agendas or other problems that might interfere with her selection as a Supreme Court justice.

The neighbors say they had nothing negative to report. But President Barack Obama went with a different choice - New York judge Sonia Sotomayor.

University of Chicago Law Professor Bernard Harcourt has long known Sotomayor, Judge Wood and President Obama He says while the selection of a Hispanic woman for the nation's highest court is significant, he thinks Sotomayor would want it de-emphasized

"Everything about her is incredibly remarkable, and I don't think she needs to be identified in terms of her personal identity or ethnic background," said Harcourt.


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