President Barack Obama has chosen New York jurist Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.
If nominated, she would be the nation's first Hispanic justice.
Obama said he was looking for a jurist who had "a common touch and a sense of compassion." He said he had looked far and wide before settling on the 54-year-old Sotomayor, who initially was named to a federal judgeship by President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992.
Obama noted that Sotomayor would replace Souter as the only trial judge on the high court.
Sotomayor says that she never forgets the "real-world consequences" of the decisions she makes from the bench.
Sotomayor also said she believes in the "rule of law as the foundation of all basic rights."
Speaking at the White House Tuesday after her nomination was announced, Sotomayor said it would be a "profound privilege" to apply the principles set forth by the nation's Founding Fathers to the questions and controversies the nation faces Tuesday.
Sotomayor says she never imagined, as a child from New York's South Bronx, that she would have the opportunities and experiences she's been given. She said she hopes to be seen as an "ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities."
The Senate's Republican leader says Republicans are planning to treat Judge Sonia Sotomayor fairly.
But, in a statement, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also says the Supreme Court nominee's record will be examined "thoroughly." He says the goal is to make sure she understands that "a jurist's role is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."
Obama had said he wants a Supreme Court justice to combine intellect with empathy.
The nomination is being hailed by Democrats, including the attorney general from Sotomayor's home state. New York's Andrew Cuomo says the nominee will bring the court "a distinguished and thoughtful voice." Cuomo also calls her "a trailblazer," whose accomplishments will inspire women and minorities, among others.
But one conservative group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, didn't wait for the formal announcement before calling Sotomayor a "liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written."