Since David Souter announced his retirement from the Court, Sotomayor has been regarded as a front runner for many reasons; she has solid legal credentials, the real-world experience Obama sought in a nominee, and a compelling story as a girl who rose from poverty in the projects of the South Bronx.
Sources say that the deal was sealed when Sotomayor met with Obama last Thursday and the two hit it off over the course of an hour-long interview. The personal dynamic between a president and his nominee is of key importance; it is usually the determining factor in the selection process. A similar scenario led to the appointment of the Court's first female, Sandra Day O'Connor, who also secured the nomination after a lengthy interview with President Ronald Reagan revealed a mutual love of horses.
At the time O'Connor was nominated, she was one of four female candidates on Reagan's short list; he had promised to put a woman on the Supreme Court and chose O'Connor on the basis of a single interview although she was the least qualified and the only one he interviewed.
The same cannot be said of Sotomayor, who brings both public sector and private sector experience, along with a distinguished career as a federal judge. Like O'Connor, Sotomayor was one of four female finalists under consideration; unlike O'Connor, Obama interviewed all four before deciding on Sotomayor.
Sonia Sotomayor is regarded as a moderate liberal and will change the face of the Supreme Court on several levels. Perhaps the most crucial fact is that she brings to the Court a specific characteristic it has lacked for much of its 219-year history - a diversity that more accurately reflects the melting-pot origins of a large portion of the nation's population. She represents the future of a nation and a renewed, revitalized Court that will benefit from what Obama calls "the wisdom of her life's journey" as it confronts the most challenging issues of our times in the months and years ahead.