Senators want to learn everything about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearing. Her brother Juan remembers learning very early – his sister loves the law.
To explain, he walked us down memory lane in the Bronx where they grew up in a public housing project.
In the sixties, when Juan and his sister Sonia were growing up, she wasn't interested in watching “The Munsters” or “Bewitched.”
“My sister forced me to watch ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘Judd for the Defense.’…She knew she was going to be a lawyer,” says Dr. Juan Sotomayor.
They were big dreams for the inner-city girl whose parents were immigrants from Puerto Rico. The children lost their father when Sonia was nine. Their mother, who eventually became a nurse, was a strong believer in education.
“My mom knew that education was the essence of realizing your dreams, getting out of your situation, and moving ahead,” says Juan.
Sotomayor worked hard – earning top marks as early as elementary school – sharpening her skills at helping her brother deal with neighborhood thugs. “My sister always used to have to come over and diffuse situations… She negotiated.”
Her brother says she's ready for Washington and any tough questions senators may have about issues such as gun control or abortion. “She’ll handle it the way she sees fit. She is her own person.”
Since her nomination, critics have questioned her intellectual depth. Some called her a racist, citing a speech she gave in 2001 as an appeals court judge, saying “A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
“We were raised to treat everyone equally, no matter what color, no matter what race,” says her brother.
Juan Sotomayor says his conversations with his sister focus on family and talking about growing up together – like at the Catholic school they attended or the job at Zaros Bakery where they worked as teenagers. He says his sister worked so hard it was a tough act to follow. But it taught him something else.
“I decided right then and there I would never follow in her footsteps again.”
And he did not follow in her footsteps. Instead of a career in law, he chose the medical profession and became a doctor. He will be at his sister's side in Washington for the confirmation hearings just in case she needs some moral support from her little brother.