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Obama: Sotomayor's confirmation "a great day for America."

By Dave Cook / August 12, 2009

President Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor laugh during a reception in the East Room at the White House on Wednesday morning. Sotomayor was sworn on August 8 in a public ceremony as a US Supreme Court justice, becoming the first Hispanic justice on the nation's highest bench.

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"This is a great day for America," President Obama said in introducing Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the reception in the White House East Room in her honor.

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The friends and family gathered in the historic room on the mansion's state floor seemed to agree. When Justice Sotomayor talked about the uniquely American circumstances that "allowed a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx to stand here now" the crowd erupted in wild cheers and a standing ovation.

An extraordinary moment

As the nation's first African American President introduced the country's first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, he said "we are here to celebrate an extraordinary moment for our nation. " Obama added, "we celebrate the greatness of a country in which such a moment is possible. "

He saluted Sotomayor for having both "a mastery of the law" and a sense of how it "unfolds in our daily life." The principle of equal justice under law is "the animating ideal of our democracy," Obama said.

A hard to capture joy

In opening her remarks to the East Room gathering, Sotomayor said "no speech can fully capture my joy in this moment." After saying she was "most grateful to this country," the country's third female Supreme Court justice said she was "struck again today by the wonder of my own life."

Justice Sotomayor closed by asking all Americans to "wish me divine guidance and wisdom."

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