Sonia Sotomayor: Facing a High Profile Decision

Sonia SotomayorSonia Sotomayor: Facing a High Profile Decision: She loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries and dreamed of becoming a forensics detective when she grew up. However, at the age of eight she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and her dream required a shift.

Sonia Sotomayor found this condition altered the course of her life and future aspirations. Most recently this altered course has meant a Supreme Court nomination by President Obama to replace retiring Justice David Souter.

Sotomayor’s father died within a year of her diabetes diagnosis. Her mother stressed a strong education. This not-so-subtle push resulted in Sotomayor’s excelling to the head of her class in high school as well as her time at Princeton and Yale. Sotomayor turned in her Nancy Drew mysteries along the way to find inspiration in the television series, Perry Mason. The courtroom dramas helped her to determine the court would be her future. This became Sotomayor’s passion.

While the potential of the first Latina justice is being debated Sotomayor’s nomination has sparked its own sense of controversy. Can someone with a nearly 50-year history with diabetes be a meaningful candidate for the nation’s highest court?



Regardless of the ultimate answer to that question the American Diabetes Association (ADA) consider this a teaching moment for America’s citizens. Dr. Paul Robertson told CNN, “It’s wonderful for diabetics. I think it will go a long way toward being a major push against the stigma that some people with diabetes feel.”

Bill Ahearn is the vice president of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and he agrees with Robertson, “It’s a great educational moment for people in general. They can see that people that have type 1 diabetes have just as great a chance of success as anyone else. They have to be a mathematician, a doctor, a dietitian all rolled into one. It takes a lot of work, but it’s achievable.”

The questions surrounding the nomination have to do with potential health issues that could plague Sotomayor in her potential role as a Supreme Court Justice. The mere fact that Sotomayor has Type 1 diabetes has some wondering about issues related to kidney, heart and vision health (among other potential health concerns).

Experts indicate it all comes down to how Sotomayor has managed her own care over the past five decades. Robertson told The Huffington Post, “The advancements for management of type one diabetes have been just amazing over the last two decades because of the advent of insulin pumps and the ability of people to measure their glucose levels at home. We’re talking a whole different ball game now in terms of how well patients can do; what their longevity is like and how well they can function.”

You have to remember there once were prohibitions against diabetics fulfilling certain types of jobs. The fear was that the diabetic could find himself or herself in danger or be a danger to others if they passed out from the effects of diabetes complications. This could mean jobs that required the use of heavy machinery as well as other types of jobs were not available to diabetics. Advances in the distribution of insulin and self-management tools allow diabetics to engage in virtually any job today.

Does that extend to the nation’s high court? This is a question for which many diabetics are anxious to find an answer.