Sotomayor the First Latino on Supreme Court? Not Exactly

Answer centers on whether Portuguese Cardozo was 'Hispanic'
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2009 12:12 PM CDT
President Barack Obama announces federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, right, as his nominee for the Supreme Court.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Sonia Sotomayor is indeed the first Latino to be nominated for a Supreme Court post—if you don’t count Benjamin Cardozo, a justice serving in the 1930s who was born to parents claiming Portuguese descent. But, some ask, did that make him Latino? The answer, Antonio Olivo explains in the Los Angeles Times, depends on how people define themselves.

Some call themselves “Hispanic,” a term devised for the 1980 census to describe people with roots in Spanish-speaking places and later included Portuguese-speaking also. Soon, activists rejected the term in favor of the more inclusive “Latino.” Americans may label the descendants of Portuguese immigrants “Hispanic,” but one official notes, “First and foremost, the Portuguese identify themselves as European.”