Sotomayor's finances look a lot like the average person's

McClatchy NewspapersJune 4, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor owns a condo valued at $1 million in New York's Greenwich Village but otherwise is a woman of fairly modest means, a newly filed report shows.

On Thursday, Sotomayor advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that she has savings of about $32,000 as well as $15,000 in credit card debt. The 54-year-old appellate court judge also is on the hook for a $15,000 dentist bill.

Sotomayor disclosed her finances as part of an intricately detailed questionnaire, with her answers spanning more than 173 pages. The material covers every speech she's delivered to a list of her affiliations, from her past membership in the National Council of La Raza to her current membership in a self-described "constellation of influential women" called the Belizean Grove.

The questionnaire includes, as well, fresh insider details about how President Barack Obama's team selected her.

"I was contacted by Gregory Craig, White House Counsel, on Monday, April 27, 2009, with respect to the possibility of a future Supreme Court vacancy," Sotomayor reported.

The timing suggests that the White House had been given a quiet heads-up about the resignation plans of Justice David Souter, who made the public announcement May 1. Since that day, Sotomayor reported, she's had "near daily phone calls" with Cassandra Butts, the Harvard Law School graduate who's a deputy White House counsel.

Sotomayor reports being first interviewed in person on May 14 by Leslie Kiernan, a Washington-based attorney. This was followed two days later by a telephone interview with several top White House officials. On May 21, she met in person with several officials, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. She talked to Obama the same day, and with Vice President Joe Biden by phone on May 24.

Obama announced his selection of Sotomayor on May 26. Since then, she and White House officials have been compiling the voluminous documentation she needed for the Senate confirmation process.

After serving 17 years on the federal bench, first as a trial judge and since 1998 on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Sotomayor's financial holdings pale in comparison to some of her potential future colleagues. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, for instance, reported assets of more than $6 million when he was named to the court in 2005.

Like most current Supreme Court justices, however, Sotomayor reports being a regular traveler and teacher. Columbia University paid her $25,000 last year for co-teaching a class, and in prior years she's earned roughly $14,000 a year for teaching a course at New York University.

At the University of Puerto Rico, she's taught a seminar, including one in 2007.

"I was not compensated, but did receive reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals," Sotomayor reported.

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