The Supreme Court Justice with Type 1

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been very open about her diabetes diagnosis, and how it has shaped her worldview.



The odds that Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first person with diabetes to be seated on the highest court are pretty long. However, Justice Sotomayor is the first to reveal her diabetes diagnosis in a very public way. She let it be known that she has Type 1 in her 2013 memoir, My Beloved World.

Her memoir opens with an account of her frightening emergency trip from Sunday church to the hospital; she was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7. It follows with how she soon learned to self-administer insulin. And she includes how she overcame perceived limits of having Type 1, saying, “I don’t know if they still give diabetic children a list of professions they can’t aspire to, but I’m proud to offer living proof that big dreams are not out of bounds.”

Justice Sotomayor earned a B.A. in history summa cum laude in 1976 at Princeton, where she won the Pyne Prize, the highest general academic honor for undergraduates. She matriculated to Yale Law, where she was an editor of the Law Journal. Justice Sotomayor worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York and then entered private practice, specializing in international commercial litigation. President George H.W. Bush appointed her to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992. In 1998, President Clinton elevated her to the Second Circuit Court, and in 2009, President Obama appointed her to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice David H. Souter.

In a 2013 Q&A session at an event in Denver, Justice Sotomayor was asked how she was able to surmount the obstacles of diabetes and other challenges to achieve great things in life. She said her diagnosis at an early age framed her mental outlook on life.The prognosis for Type 1 was not good when she was diagnosed 50 years ago, and she was told she wasn’t expected to live past 40. Her diagnosis gave her a sense of urgency to get the most out of life.

“[My diagnosis] taught me the preciousness of life, and it taught me that if I wasted any minute of my life, that it would be criminal. That’s what’s kept me going,” she said.

You can read more on Justice Sotomayor’s life in her memoir My Beloved World, which can be purchased online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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Jim Cahill is a senior writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. Before turning to writing, he was a lawyer in government and private practice who focused on consumer protection and regulatory law. He can be contacted at jcahill@epscomm.com.