Two of the candidates touted as possible replacements for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter were commencement speakers at Pace Law School, and both were awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees. In 2000, Seth Waxman, former U.S. Solicitor General spoke and in 2003 Sonia Sotomayor, Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. I am a 2003 alumna of Pace Law School, and recall that Judge Sotomayor’s speech was one of the highlights of commencement. She brought her elderly mother with her and spoke sincerely and movingly about her life and her journey to her appointment as a Second Circuit judge. Her honorary degree citation read, in part
If ever there were a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity, it is you, Sonia Sotomayor. The nation, in general, and the people of the Second Judicial Circuit, in particular, benefit from your solid judicial experience. Even in our postmodern, deconstructionist society when the reality of impartiality seems, at times, illusory, you have proven that you maintain the rule of law, uphold the U,S, Constitution, and administer justice impartially and fairly according to law, Your progressively stellar career is evidence of your hard work and intelligence as well as your dedication to public service.
Will Judge Sotomayor soon be Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor? Stay tuned.