WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has chosen New York jurist Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.
If nominated, she would be the nation's first Hispanic justice.
Obama said he was looking for a jurist who had "a common touch and a sense of compassion." He said he had looked far and wide before settling on the 54-year-old Sotomayor, who initially was named to a federal judgeship by President George W. Bush.
Obama noted that Sotomayor would replace Souter as the only trial judge on the high court.
The president's first Supreme Court nominee says that she never forgets the "real-world consequences" of the decisions she makes from the bench.
Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge, also said she believes in the "rule of law as the foundation of all basic rights."
Speaking at the White House Tuesday after her nomination was announced, Sotomayor said it would be a "profound privilege" to apply the principles set forth by the nation's Founding Fathers to the questions and controversies the nation faces today.
Sotomayor says she never imagined, as a child from New York's South Bronx, that she would have the opportunities and experiences she's been given. She said she hopes to be seen as an "ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities."
The president's choice has said her childhood experiences left her with a "deep sense of humility" that will never leave her.
Sotomayor grew up in a housing project near Yankee Stadium after her parents moved to New York City from Puerto Rico. She had juvenile diabetes. Her father died when she was 9.
As a child, Sotomayor immersed herself in Nancy Drew books and spent hours watching Perry Mason on television. She knew she wanted to be a judge by the age of 10 after being inspired by a Perry Mason episode.
She went on to graduate from Princeton University and Yale Law School, work as a prosecutor and private lawyer, and become a federal judge.
When she signed her first judgment of conviction after becoming a judge, she was emotionally touched. She says she felt a "deep, deep sense of there but for the grace of God could I have gone and many that I have loved."