President Barack Obama announced Tuesday morning federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court.
If confirmed, Sotomayor, who grew up in the South Bronx, would be the first Hispanic and third female justice seated on the country's highest court.
Already, pro-life groups have come out, voicing concerns over Obama's new pick despite her limited record on abortion.
"Does justice include the right to tear the arms and legs off of babies, crush their skulls, and treat them as medical waste?" Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life asked. "We all draw the line somewhere. An avowed racist or anti-Semite is not acceptable on the Supreme Court. Why should we give a pass to the violence of abortion?"
Americans United for Life acknowledged that Sotomayor has "never directly decided whether a law regulating abortion was constitutional" during her 17 years on the bench.
But the pro-life group pointed out that the 54-year-old judge has decided a few cases "that indirectly implicate abortion rights."
After Justice David Souter announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, Obama said he planned to choose someone who possesses the "quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles."
In his announcement on Tuesday, Obama indicated that he chose exactly such a person as he commented on Sotomayor's humble beginnings and "wisdom from an inspiring life's journey."
He said that a Hispanic seated on the high court would mark another step toward the goal of "equal justice under the law."
Sotomayor will not likely affect the ideological balance of the court, since Souter was also a liberal-leaning judge.
Some conservatives have expressed concerns, saying Sotomayor is more liberal than Souter and that her previous comments and decisions imply that her personal political agenda is more important than the law.
"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written," stated Judicial Confirmation Network's Counsel Wendy E. Long. "She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench."
Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute, also lamented, "This is a sad day. The American people want judges of neutrality, not liberal activist 'judges' who decide cases on their feelings. Taking the blindfold off of Lady Justice is not a positive act."
"Judicial activism robs the power of self-government from the American people. Sotomayor's statements on judges making policy, advocating for race-viewed justice, and her decision in Ricci and in many others, which were overturned, make clear her activist approach. The only people who will be happy with this pick will be extreme activists on the left," Shackelford added.
A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, Sotomayor has served as an appeals judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1998. Prior to that, she was a N.Y. County Assistant District Attorney and a former private practice attorney. She was nominated to the federal bench by former president George H.W. Bush in 1991 and elevated to the appeals court by former president Bill Clinton in 1997.