Supreme Court Nominations

Sotomayor’s Life Story Shows ‘Intoxicating Lure of Work’

The life story of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is both a civil rights story about a minority woman rising from humble circumstances and a story of hard work that comes with personal sacrifices.

Sotomayor is a high achiever who managed to rise to the top in an increasingly competitive meritocracy because of a near frantic drive to succeed and an ability to attract and impress mentors, columnist David Brooks writes in the New York Times. Her life story shows “the intoxicating lure of work” he says.

Sotomayor is upbeat and social, with many friends but not enough time to see them regularly. Her romantic relationships have also suffered, Brooks says. Her first marriage broke up after two years—Sotomayor even acknowledged her 15-hour days were a contributing factor—and a second relationship ended after eight years.

In Sotomayor’s life story, Brooks sees “the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others. In the profiles, you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity. You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships—the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own. You see the strains of a multicultural establishment, in which people try to preserve their ethnic heritage as they ascend into the ranks of the elite. You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.”

Related coverage: “Long Hours and Hard Work Took a Toll on Sotomayor’s Relationships”

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