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"I knew she'd be trouble." So quipped Antonin Scalia about Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court's annual end-of-term party in 2010. It's usually the sort of event one would expect from such a grand institution, with gentle parodies of the justices performed by their law clerks, but this year Sotomayor decided to shake it up—flooding the room with salsa music and coaxing her "I knew she'd be trouble." So quipped Antonin Scalia about Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court's annual end-of-term party in 2010. It's usually the sort of event one would expect from such a grand institution, with gentle parodies of the justices performed by their law clerks, but this year Sotomayor decided to shake it up—flooding the room with salsa music and coaxing her fellow justices to dance. It was little surprise in 2009 that President Barack Obama nominated a Hispanic judge to replace the retiring justice David Souter. The fact that there had never been a nominee to the nation's highest court from the nation's fastest growing minority had long been apparent. So the time was ripe—but how did it come to be Sonia Sotomayor? In Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice, the veteran journalist Joan Biskupic answers that question. This is the story of how two forces providentially merged—the large ambitions of a talented Puerto Rican girl raised in the projects in the Bronx and the increasing political presence of Hispanics, from California to Texas, from Florida to the Northeast—resulting in a historical appointment. And this is not just a tale about breaking barriers as a Puerto Rican. It's about breaking barriers as a justice. Biskupic, the author of highly praised judicial biographies of Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, now pulls back the curtain on the Supreme Court nomination process, revealing the networks Sotomayor built and the skills she cultivated to go where no Hispanic has gone before. We see other potential candidates edged out along the way. And we see how, in challenging tradition and expanding our idea of a justice (as well as expanding her public persona), Sotomayor has created tension within and without the court's marble halls. As a Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor has shared her personal story to an unprecedented degree. And that story—of a Latina who emerged from tough times in the projects not only to prevail but also to rise to the top—has even become fabric for some of her most passionate comments on matters before the Court. But there is yet more to know about the rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Breaking In offers the larger, untold story of the woman who has been called "the people's justice."


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"I knew she'd be trouble." So quipped Antonin Scalia about Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court's annual end-of-term party in 2010. It's usually the sort of event one would expect from such a grand institution, with gentle parodies of the justices performed by their law clerks, but this year Sotomayor decided to shake it up—flooding the room with salsa music and coaxing her "I knew she'd be trouble." So quipped Antonin Scalia about Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court's annual end-of-term party in 2010. It's usually the sort of event one would expect from such a grand institution, with gentle parodies of the justices performed by their law clerks, but this year Sotomayor decided to shake it up—flooding the room with salsa music and coaxing her fellow justices to dance. It was little surprise in 2009 that President Barack Obama nominated a Hispanic judge to replace the retiring justice David Souter. The fact that there had never been a nominee to the nation's highest court from the nation's fastest growing minority had long been apparent. So the time was ripe—but how did it come to be Sonia Sotomayor? In Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice, the veteran journalist Joan Biskupic answers that question. This is the story of how two forces providentially merged—the large ambitions of a talented Puerto Rican girl raised in the projects in the Bronx and the increasing political presence of Hispanics, from California to Texas, from Florida to the Northeast—resulting in a historical appointment. And this is not just a tale about breaking barriers as a Puerto Rican. It's about breaking barriers as a justice. Biskupic, the author of highly praised judicial biographies of Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, now pulls back the curtain on the Supreme Court nomination process, revealing the networks Sotomayor built and the skills she cultivated to go where no Hispanic has gone before. We see other potential candidates edged out along the way. And we see how, in challenging tradition and expanding our idea of a justice (as well as expanding her public persona), Sotomayor has created tension within and without the court's marble halls. As a Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor has shared her personal story to an unprecedented degree. And that story—of a Latina who emerged from tough times in the projects not only to prevail but also to rise to the top—has even become fabric for some of her most passionate comments on matters before the Court. But there is yet more to know about the rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Breaking In offers the larger, untold story of the woman who has been called "the people's justice."

30 review for Breaking in: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Joan Biskupic received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School and is the legal reporter for Reuters. She has written biographies of Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia. Biskupic says this book is not exactly a biography of Sonia Sotomayor but a parallel narrative to trace the growing influences of the Hispanic population in the United States. Reading this book I learned about the 1954 Supreme Court case of Hernandez V Texas, which gave protection against discrimination for people of “Me Joan Biskupic received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School and is the legal reporter for Reuters. She has written biographies of Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia. Biskupic says this book is not exactly a biography of Sonia Sotomayor but a parallel narrative to trace the growing influences of the Hispanic population in the United States. Reading this book I learned about the 1954 Supreme Court case of Hernandez V Texas, which gave protection against discrimination for people of “Mexican and Latin American” descent. I was surprised I knew nothing about this important ruling prior to reading about it in this book. The author weaves information about Sotomayor and the rise of the Hispanic population in an interesting and balanced method. Biskupic shows her journalistic training as she describes the federal judicial-nomination process. I found this process most interesting and also most discouraging. Biskupic presents a fact in Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing and in the way it contrasts between several other confirmation hearings that were conducted. References to Scalia’s Italian heritage for example were repeated so often it became a running joke. And O’Connor’s gender was a selling point. By comparison Sotomayor’s membership in Puerto Rican organization set off a backlash against her. Biskupic reflects on the way notions about ethnicity can blur into notions about race. Thus Scalia’s and Alito’s Italian ethnicity were celebrated as an enhancing dimension of their belonging, while Sotomayor’s ethnicity is still viewed with skepticism. Biskupic reveals but does not address how judicial politics has become ground zero in the struggles to demonize integrationist vision of diversity. The author covers in-depth the role Sotomayor has on the court about race discrimination and affirmative action laws. Overall I found this an informative and thought provoking book. I enjoyed the photographs provided in the book. I read this as an e-book via my Kindle app on my iPad.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I enjoyed reading this well-written, well-balanced nonfiction book on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Actually, the content is just as much about the recent history of the U.S. Supreme Court as it is about her. Lots of familiar political names come and go in the telling. Some of the behind-the-scenes observations are interesting. Many of the important court cases are discussed. How the Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, nominate their Justices is covered. A lot of Sotomayor's bio I enjoyed reading this well-written, well-balanced nonfiction book on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Actually, the content is just as much about the recent history of the U.S. Supreme Court as it is about her. Lots of familiar political names come and go in the telling. Some of the behind-the-scenes observations are interesting. Many of the important court cases are discussed. How the Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, nominate their Justices is covered. A lot of Sotomayor's biography was already given in her memoir. A nice change of pace in my reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    This is probably a little closer to a 3.5 star rating, minus one full star (from 5) for quoting so much of Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World, during the first half of the book. However, the last third of the book, detailing Sotomayor's cases and time in the Supreme Court, was fascinating. I doubt a first-person account would go into the kind of back-and-forth and arguments that happened during various cases, and being able to read about those details as well as reactions from other politician This is probably a little closer to a 3.5 star rating, minus one full star (from 5) for quoting so much of Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World, during the first half of the book. However, the last third of the book, detailing Sotomayor's cases and time in the Supreme Court, was fascinating. I doubt a first-person account would go into the kind of back-and-forth and arguments that happened during various cases, and being able to read about those details as well as reactions from other politicians and society at large brought to life some of the race-related cases of the Supreme Court for me. Sotomayor is a proponent of affirmative action and increasing access and opportunity for students of color, and she is not afraid to stand by those opinions even if she is the only dissenting Justice. I loved reading that fire and grit in her personality. I also loved reading about other Latino/as who made advances in politics and through the Judicial system, and the support or not for them and why. Clarence Thomas (another SCOTUS Justice) says that the only way to stop discriminating by race is to stop discriminating by race. Sotomayor argues that the only way to stop racial discrimination is to talk widely and openly about the issues, to bring them up constantly and, with enough reminding, the policy makers and the citizens can recognize their own biases and make conscious steps to remove them. After watching so much racial tension over the last few years, I tend to think Sotomayor is correct. Excellent read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn

    3.5 / 5 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ana Yarí

    Sonia Sotomayor is a fascinating and important public figure. Her life journey is inspiring to some and a reflection on the strength of working hard with the opportunities you're given. She's the first [email protected] to serve on the Supreme Court and her appointment was full of controversy. While this book is interesting, I don't think Biskupic goes in depth enough regarding her subject. I was especially disappointed in how little Biskupic goes into Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination and how against R Sonia Sotomayor is a fascinating and important public figure. Her life journey is inspiring to some and a reflection on the strength of working hard with the opportunities you're given. She's the first [email protected] to serve on the Supreme Court and her appointment was full of controversy. While this book is interesting, I don't think Biskupic goes in depth enough regarding her subject. I was especially disappointed in how little Biskupic goes into Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination and how against Republicans were about her nomination (and the role the NRA played is absent completely). So while it's a good book and the subject is fascinating I just didn't feel Biskupic pushed it enough, and she definitely had room. Sotomayor has done important work throughout her whole career and is a necessary and important voice for minorities on the Supreme Court and her work reflects her life, her struggles and the struggles of a lot of people of color in this country.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This books was one part biography and one part a racial history for Hispanics in the 20th century in America. While I certainly learned a great deal about a subject I should know more about, I never felt that this was easy reading. It was repetitive in places and it never seemed like the author ever truly warmed up to her subject. She has great respect for what Sotomayor was able to accomplish, but there was always an asterisk about how she approached the job. While the author didn't directly cr This books was one part biography and one part a racial history for Hispanics in the 20th century in America. While I certainly learned a great deal about a subject I should know more about, I never felt that this was easy reading. It was repetitive in places and it never seemed like the author ever truly warmed up to her subject. She has great respect for what Sotomayor was able to accomplish, but there was always an asterisk about how she approached the job. While the author didn't directly criticize the judge, she always seemed to throw in criticism of Sotoymayor by others - but it was the same criticism year after year and it was distracting for me as a reader. I don't expect these types of books to be hagiographies every time, but this book spent too much time trying to show that it was not. I enjoyed Sotomayor's memoir much more than this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna

    "My Beloved World" was one of my favorite books last year. This was excellent follow up, filling in the gaps about Justice Sotomayor professional career. While here memoir focused more on her upbringing and peersonal like, "Breaking In" shows us her path, and how she was assisted, from law student, to assistanct DA, boutique firm lawyer, etc. I think the two books balance each other well. It was also very interesting to learn more about the deals made in making a nomination to the Supreme Court a "My Beloved World" was one of my favorite books last year. This was excellent follow up, filling in the gaps about Justice Sotomayor professional career. While here memoir focused more on her upbringing and peersonal like, "Breaking In" shows us her path, and how she was assisted, from law student, to assistanct DA, boutique firm lawyer, etc. I think the two books balance each other well. It was also very interesting to learn more about the deals made in making a nomination to the Supreme Court and what is involved. I really don't think this is what our forefathers had in mind. The book was well written and pretty easy to read. If you'd like to learn more about Sonia Sotomayor's law career, then this book is for you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Riggins

    Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has become a momentous figure in American politics both in terms of her advocacy for affirmative action policies and as the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, an appointee of our first African American President. Rarely does a Supreme Court Justice capture the attention of the masses but Justice Sotomayor has become an inspiration for Hispanics and women of all races. Ambitious and indomitable, Sotomayor is unapologetic in her support of affirmati Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has become a momentous figure in American politics both in terms of her advocacy for affirmative action policies and as the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, an appointee of our first African American President. Rarely does a Supreme Court Justice capture the attention of the masses but Justice Sotomayor has become an inspiration for Hispanics and women of all races. Ambitious and indomitable, Sotomayor is unapologetic in her support of affirmative action, often citing the important role that affirmative action has played in her own rise to prominence within the federal court system. The candor and sincerity with which Justice Sotomayor conducts is admirable. This book is a vivid and well written account of Justice Sotomayor’s life revealing personal anecdotes from her childhood in the Bronx and chronicling some of the more polarizing cases that she has worked on throughout her career. Readers will gain a vibrant image of the spirited Latino woman behind the precedent. The author provides firsthand insight into the interworking of our Federal Court system few citizens ever get to see including the conflict and concession between Justices when dealing with controversial issues such as affirmative action. Willful and resolute, Justice Sotomayor has maintained her sense of identity and become a champion of affirmative action. As with any controversial issue there are, of course, voices on both sides of the discussion either advocating for or opposing the issue, in this case affirmative action. Speaking from personal experience, growing up poor in the inner city, I am convinced that the struggles of the disadvantaged and neglected transcend race and gender. Poverty cares little for skin color and hunger knows no race. There are many American citizens regardless of race that bear the scars of discrimination and racial violence that occurs in our inner city public schools. These problems are unaffected by race-conscious affirmative action preference policies. The American civil rights movement was about equality, not preference and equality by definition includes all citizens regardless of race. American citizens are guaranteed the constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to try. Affirmation action policy is intended to be a proactive affirmation that discrimination is not taking place and taking steps to include under represented groups while maintaining equal rights for all citizens as provided for by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Unfortunately, some proponents of race-conscious affirmative action have interpreted the idea somewhat differently and moved the discussion from policies that remove legitimate barriers preventing minorities from competing on an equal footing to something else altogether and have overlooked the obvious fact that when you prefer one over another based upon racial or sexual criteria, you inversely discriminate against other. Policies and programs that employ quotas or afford preference based upon superficial labels and stereotypes are aphetic and indolent in that they lack creative initiative to address the underlying issues of racial disparities. It seems to be self-evident that promoting equality through discrimination is a complete contradiction. In America with some of the brightest minds in the world, I have to believe that we are capable of producing policies that ensure equal opportunity for minorities without violating the constitutional rights of innocent third parties. In our vital quest for true racial equality, we must be mindful that not all white men have graced the prestigious halls of the Ivy League but rather some have risen through the jagged cracks in the concrete of our inner cities. This book further reveals the voracity with which Justice Sotomayor has defended affirmative action cases tried before the Supreme Court, aggressively advocating in favor of affirmative action while occasionally contradicting established precedent regarding the constitutionality of programs that violate equal protection. The standard of review for race-based affirmative action cases is the strict scrutiny standard; the courts insisting that race-conscience measures be enacted only as a last resort and must be narrowly tailored and substantially related to achievement of a compelling interest, supported by sufficient probative evidence of racial discrimination in the relevant economic sphere. An organization enacting a strictly race-based measure bears the burden of proof that all available race-neutral options have failed to satisfy the compelling interest. The courts have flatly rejected the assertion that “given a strong basis in evidence of a race-based problem, a race-based remedy is necessary.” That simply is not the law. If a race-neutral remedy is sufficient to cure a race-based problem, then a race-conscience remedy can never be narrowly tailored to that problem. Unfortunately, one of the trends we are seeing in the Federal Courts today is the ability of our Judges to simply side step the issue, refusing to hear affirmative action cases by attacking the Plaintiff’s standing. In challenging an affirmative action measure, the Plaintiff must prove that he or she has suffered an injury resulting from the alleged violation, that the injury is particularized as to him or her, that the injury is directly related to the policy in question and that the alleged violation will be remedied by a favorable decision from the court. The ambiguity of interpretation leaves ample room for clever semantics when arguing for or against a plaintiff’s standing. Advocates for race-conscious affirmative action measures are well aware of this fact. If the court ultimately determines that a plaintiff does not satisfy the requirements of standing to challenge an affirmative action policy as previously stated, the court may simply dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without ever ruling on the constitutionality of the policy in question. Many disadvantaged plaintiffs challenging race-conscious affirmative action measures simply give up out of frustration or lack of financial backing and the challenged measure remains unaffected. The truth is that many of the formal barriers to disadvantaged persons of all races may be the product of bureaucratic inertia more than actual necessity and may have a disproportionate effect on minorities. Many of the organizations that have race-conscious affirmative action policies in place have not tried or even considered most of the race-neutral alternatives available. The first measure every organization ought to undertake to eradicate discrimination is to clean its own house and to ensure that its own operations are run on a strictly race and ethnicity-neutral basis. In the profound words of Chief Justice Roberts, “the best way for us to stop discriminating on the basis of race, is for us to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dale Wyant

    I was glad to learn more about this "wise Latina woman." If you look at recent court decisions, of course the justices bring their backgrounds into play when deciding cases. Biskupic has a depth of experience covering the Supreme Court which makes her books all the more believable and readable. I was glad to learn more about this "wise Latina woman." If you look at recent court decisions, of course the justices bring their backgrounds into play when deciding cases. Biskupic has a depth of experience covering the Supreme Court which makes her books all the more believable and readable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kerrie

    I haven't read Justice Sotomayor's autobiography but I'll be sure to now. This is yet another false start to what felt like a very promising read. A good biography should build a narrative that evokes empathy, making the reader feel as though they're walking through the subject's life shoulder to shoulder. This is not a good biography. There's a voyeurism here that feels more like you're peeking through a grimy window, haphazardly and crudely connecting the dots of your observation. I'm surprise I haven't read Justice Sotomayor's autobiography but I'll be sure to now. This is yet another false start to what felt like a very promising read. A good biography should build a narrative that evokes empathy, making the reader feel as though they're walking through the subject's life shoulder to shoulder. This is not a good biography. There's a voyeurism here that feels more like you're peeking through a grimy window, haphazardly and crudely connecting the dots of your observation. I'm surprised as this is not Biskupic's first rodeo and I would have hoped for something stronger. Pretty choppy lackluster read from what I made it through.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Castañeda

    "Whether it was due to the indeterminate color of my skin or my very determined personality, I moved easily between different worlds [of color]." "You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still ju "Whether it was due to the indeterminate color of my skin or my very determined personality, I moved easily between different worlds [of color]." "You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    I had already read her autobiography so knew much of what was the first 2/3 of the book. this one relied too much on that autobiography and not enough on original research. Completely skipped over the confirmation hearings, which was very contentious. Sometimes it seemed like it was written as a series of magazine articles instead of a coherent work which was I think there was so much repetition Not sure i like her as much as I did. At times, she seemed more interested in her book tour than anyth I had already read her autobiography so knew much of what was the first 2/3 of the book. this one relied too much on that autobiography and not enough on original research. Completely skipped over the confirmation hearings, which was very contentious. Sometimes it seemed like it was written as a series of magazine articles instead of a coherent work which was I think there was so much repetition Not sure i like her as much as I did. At times, she seemed more interested in her book tour than anything else.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This book was interesting in that it presented something I had never thought about: the political process entailed in the choosing of a supreme court justice. And believe me, the book makes clear that it is an extremely political process. Which for me throws a lot of light on the recent congress dawdling over approving Obama's nominated justice. All I can say is that I want Democrats to win both the presidency and in the Senate and House so that we will continue with enlightened justices. I shu This book was interesting in that it presented something I had never thought about: the political process entailed in the choosing of a supreme court justice. And believe me, the book makes clear that it is an extremely political process. Which for me throws a lot of light on the recent congress dawdling over approving Obama's nominated justice. All I can say is that I want Democrats to win both the presidency and in the Senate and House so that we will continue with enlightened justices. I shudder to think of the repressive nominations that Trump could make. Sotomayor is an interesting colorful determined character and no surprise that she wound up as our first Hispanic justice. Affirmative action plays a big part in her story and the question arises as to how long will this have to remain in place? The book was extremely detail oriented which I am sure some will find boring but I found the entire story to be fascinating.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Krysten Bailey

    It was interesting. I learned a lot about not just justice Sotomayor but the other justices and the process in general. This is especially relevant with the recent death of RBG and the new justice appointed by Trump.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I was pleasantly surprised. Inspiring story to say the least.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Wonderful. Excellent context for her career and temperament.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Morgan

    Audio. Not groundbreaking, but a good introduction if you need one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karl Worsham

    Justice Sotomayor is a fascinating figure.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sharfman

    This is the first biography of our first Latina Justice of the Supreme Court and, as a devoted fan of Sonia Sotomayor, I of course had to read this when I first discovered its existence. Two years after the publication date, this biography proves prescient in the trajectory it sketches for her career. Biskupic argues that Sotomayor's place on the court is less the consensus builder and more the stubborn and somewhat idiosyncratic liberal; a sort of counterweight to Clarence Thomas. Particularly This is the first biography of our first Latina Justice of the Supreme Court and, as a devoted fan of Sonia Sotomayor, I of course had to read this when I first discovered its existence. Two years after the publication date, this biography proves prescient in the trajectory it sketches for her career. Biskupic argues that Sotomayor's place on the court is less the consensus builder and more the stubborn and somewhat idiosyncratic liberal; a sort of counterweight to Clarence Thomas. Particularly on issues relating to criminal justice and racial justice, Biskupic distinguishes Sotomayor as more than just a member of the "liberal wing" of the court, but a singular voice whose jurisprudence is informed by her upbringing in the Bronx, yet which retains a faith in procedural justice and the rule of law. Though Biskupic could not have known this at the time, Sotomayor has definitely emerged as what we might call the "Black Lives Matter" Justice, especially in light of her historically-great dissent in Utah v. Strieff. What this book fails to do, however, is offer any sort of in-depth look at Sotomayor's judicial philosophy. Instead, Biskupic tries more to situate Sotomayor's ascent to the highest court historically, reviewing the history of Hispanic nominees to the federal bench and weaving that in with Sotomayor's personal biography. The details of Sotomayor's life rely largely on her own excellent autobiography and will not be new to readers of My Beloved World. I certainly did learn a lot about the history of Hispanic actors in the Judicial Branch, but this book failed to satisfy my interest in Sotomayor's role in shaping the future of the court. Biskupic does not offer anything new and makes no strong arguments about her jurisprudence. Admittedly, I don't think this book claims to accomplish anything of the sort, and 2014 (and even 2016) is certainly early in Sotomayor's tenure to have much evidence of Sotomayor's philosophy. As I previously mentioned, Biskupic does succeed in clarifying the uniqueness of Sotomayor's voice, but I was left wanting more. I would have wanted a more nuanced and detailed analysis of Sotomayor's jurisprudence compared to her colleagues and predecessors, and Biskupic did not offer anything in this regard that casual court watchers would not already know.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    The emphasis on politics is what stands out most in Breaking In, as its subtitle suggests -- The Politics of Justice and the Rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Journalist Joan Biskupic, who has covered the Supreme Court since 1989, looks at how Sonia Sotomayor rose from childhood in the projects of the Bronx to becoming a justice on the Supreme Court. It's a good story, but one that's been told in Sotomayor's autobiography, as well as in numerous news reports at the time of her nomination to the Court. Bis The emphasis on politics is what stands out most in Breaking In, as its subtitle suggests -- The Politics of Justice and the Rise of Sonia Sotomayor. Journalist Joan Biskupic, who has covered the Supreme Court since 1989, looks at how Sonia Sotomayor rose from childhood in the projects of the Bronx to becoming a justice on the Supreme Court. It's a good story, but one that's been told in Sotomayor's autobiography, as well as in numerous news reports at the time of her nomination to the Court. Biskupic runs through it quickly, not slowing down until she gets to where Sotomayor's career started taking off. It was never a straightforward trajectory, there were ups and downs, victories and setbacks. What struck me most was how political her road to the Supreme Court was, and how it was quite typical in that respect. She was noticed early on by Senators Alphonse D'Amato and Patrick Moynihan as a future prospect for high court. As her circle of acquaintances grew, thanks in large part to her initiative in reaching out to help Hispanic community groups, she became a more attractive prospect for Supreme Court, especially as both Democrats and Republicans realized the political benefits of nominating a Latino for the post. Paying back political favors, holding up congressional votes until some concession is made, the timing of elections, it all goes into the equation. The candidate has to be known to the powers that be, so shrinking violets can forget it. Luck plays a big role as well. The good news seems to be that since it's a lifetime appointment, once the politics of getting selected and approved have been accomplished, the justice is free to stop playing politics and consider cases on their legal merits. That's why you see justices who were thought to be reliably conservative or liberal defying expectations. Breaking In is a short (230 page) and punchy look at Sotomayor's path to the Supreme Court and her most notable decisions so far.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meepspeeps

    I read Sotomayor's autobiography not long ago, and this book complements it well. The focus is on affirmative action because it significantly impacted Sotomayor's life and work. I found myself wondering what exactly my position is on affirmative action and other methods to achieve racial and ethnic diversity in various settings, notably educational settings. There are some fun moments that describe in more detail Sotomayor's personality and willingness to be herself despite her role filled with I read Sotomayor's autobiography not long ago, and this book complements it well. The focus is on affirmative action because it significantly impacted Sotomayor's life and work. I found myself wondering what exactly my position is on affirmative action and other methods to achieve racial and ethnic diversity in various settings, notably educational settings. There are some fun moments that describe in more detail Sotomayor's personality and willingness to be herself despite her role filled with tradition and expected decorum. The title refers to her propensity to interrupt other justices and the peeps appearing before the court. As someone who worked in some traditionally male occupations, I could particularly relate to the criticism about being "too aggressive," when it wouldn't be said about a male in identical circumstances. I recommend it to anyone who wants to be themselves even when it means coming across as "the other" in a group, and who wants to learn more about the politics of selecting justices.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy

    I was very interested in ms. Sotomayors story. When she became a justice I was glad for her appointment and the inclusion of Hispanics in our government. I really didn't know her story and found it very compelling. I will say however by the end of the book I really didn't like her much. Of course everyone has their own opinion. I thought her request to move Joe Bidens inauguration because of her book tour insulting. Seemed like her priorities were askew. I also found her constantly referring to I was very interested in ms. Sotomayors story. When she became a justice I was glad for her appointment and the inclusion of Hispanics in our government. I really didn't know her story and found it very compelling. I will say however by the end of the book I really didn't like her much. Of course everyone has their own opinion. I thought her request to move Joe Bidens inauguration because of her book tour insulting. Seemed like her priorities were askew. I also found her constantly referring to herself as a Puerto Rican Latina, off putting. She's an American! She was elected to be an American justice and while it's only reasonable to expect her to have insights on minority matters , she seems at least in this book to be proudest of not being willing to compromise. It sounded at the end as though she makes up her mind and nothing will change her opinion. Maybe I should read further but this book was not favorable to her in my opinion

  23. 4 out of 5

    Correen

    The first half to two thirds of the book is material that is commonly available and much published in Sotomayor's own book. To her credit, she does provide some analysis of portions of the information. About the last third is an analysis of the subject's performance on the judicial bench of the Supreme Court. That increases in its value as the author moves toward the end of the book. This part was my reason for reading the book -- how has Sotomayor performed? Biskopic's analysis is mixed. She gi The first half to two thirds of the book is material that is commonly available and much published in Sotomayor's own book. To her credit, she does provide some analysis of portions of the information. About the last third is an analysis of the subject's performance on the judicial bench of the Supreme Court. That increases in its value as the author moves toward the end of the book. This part was my reason for reading the book -- how has Sotomayor performed? Biskopic's analysis is mixed. She gives the justice a somewhat complementary of her attempt to build her own identity and provide her perspective of the law. However, Sotomayor's ability to work with other justices seems to be in question. There is also some question about her priorities -- the amount of commitment to her self-promotion including selling her books as versus the life of a justice. I hope our author will continue to follow this interesting justice and report to us in another volume.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arlene

    The best part about this book was its tell-all inside story about what it takes to rise to the ranks of a Supreme Court justice. In Sonia's case, the politicking was extensive and ongoing, involving many political favors, and in the end, a bit of luck. The worst part about this book is that it ended too soon. From reading Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, I know what shapes her decision-making, in general, but I want to know more. Sonia is really "one-of-a-kind" as far as Supreme Court justices go, so I The best part about this book was its tell-all inside story about what it takes to rise to the ranks of a Supreme Court justice. In Sonia's case, the politicking was extensive and ongoing, involving many political favors, and in the end, a bit of luck. The worst part about this book is that it ended too soon. From reading Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, I know what shapes her decision-making, in general, but I want to know more. Sonia is really "one-of-a-kind" as far as Supreme Court justices go, so I want to read more about her line of questioning during oral arguments, her decision-making process on cases and how she defends her decisions. I would like to hear that this author is going to follow this book with another discussing the current cases and those in the next couple of years, again featuring Sonia and her modus operandi.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I had enjoyed both Sonia Sotomayor's memoir and Joan Biskupic's participation on "Washington Week," as well as interviews of her on her book about Anton Scalia, so I eagerly delved into Breaking In. But I was disappointed. Biskupic apparently lacks respect for Sotomayor, and lent little new information to the book if one had read the Sotomayor memoir. Sotomayor is a different voice; that is the point. That she ruffles some feathers is to be expected. I was disappointed in this relatively light t I had enjoyed both Sonia Sotomayor's memoir and Joan Biskupic's participation on "Washington Week," as well as interviews of her on her book about Anton Scalia, so I eagerly delved into Breaking In. But I was disappointed. Biskupic apparently lacks respect for Sotomayor, and lent little new information to the book if one had read the Sotomayor memoir. Sotomayor is a different voice; that is the point. That she ruffles some feathers is to be expected. I was disappointed in this relatively light treatment of this groundbreaking Obama appointee.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    I enjoyed this book because it tells the story of Sonya Sotomayor which she herself wrote about in her autobiography. But it went further in explaining the politics of a Supreme Court appointment and how much is planned years in advance for each interest group to put forth their own favorite candidate. I continue to be interested in this topic and will read more about the workings of the Surpreme Court. I need to feel that I have learned something from each book and feel satisfied that I learned I enjoyed this book because it tells the story of Sonya Sotomayor which she herself wrote about in her autobiography. But it went further in explaining the politics of a Supreme Court appointment and how much is planned years in advance for each interest group to put forth their own favorite candidate. I continue to be interested in this topic and will read more about the workings of the Surpreme Court. I need to feel that I have learned something from each book and feel satisfied that I learned much from this one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Not actually a memoir, but a biography. If it were a memoir, I am fairly sure I would have enjoyed it more. The book is well-written, but I was left wanting more of the first part, the story of Justice Sotomayor's life before becoming part of the Supreme Court and less of the politics. That said, I also really admire her politics and the book is a solid look into the way she professes her political beliefs in her position. A remarkable woman, a simply goo I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Not actually a memoir, but a biography. If it were a memoir, I am fairly sure I would have enjoyed it more. The book is well-written, but I was left wanting more of the first part, the story of Justice Sotomayor's life before becoming part of the Supreme Court and less of the politics. That said, I also really admire her politics and the book is a solid look into the way she professes her political beliefs in her position. A remarkable woman, a simply good book. Three stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cody Knapp

    This should be read immediately after Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. It is a good supplement to the memoir, which stops whenever Sotomayor begins here career as a judge. While the author fails to provide much meaningful analysis of her subject, she does well in recounting the path that Sotomayor took from the Bronx to the Court. This should be read immediately after Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. It is a good supplement to the memoir, which stops whenever Sotomayor begins here career as a judge. While the author fails to provide much meaningful analysis of her subject, she does well in recounting the path that Sotomayor took from the Bronx to the Court.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ms.Caprioli

    Not just a retelling of Sotomayor's extraordinary life, Breaking In delves into the rise of Latinos in the US as a political force, the divisions and uneasy alliances among groups that represent different national origins, and the politics behind Supreme Court nominations. Anyone with an interest in recent political history will enjoy this book. Not just a retelling of Sotomayor's extraordinary life, Breaking In delves into the rise of Latinos in the US as a political force, the divisions and uneasy alliances among groups that represent different national origins, and the politics behind Supreme Court nominations. Anyone with an interest in recent political history will enjoy this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    This biography of Sonia Sotomayor briefly covers her childhood and education before moving on to her career. A great deal of attention is given to Supreme Court nominees from the Bush 43 administration on, as well as controversial cases where Sotomayor took a stand. All in all, I liked this quite well but if I had it to do over again, would probably opt for Sotomayor’s memoir instead.

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