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Sotomayor: A Single Supreme?


President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor yesterday to succeed David Souter on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais; Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News)

Another first on the Supreme Court! If Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed, she'll be its first ... bachelorette.

The 54-year-old judge has been single since 1983, when her college marriage ended in divorce; the couple had no children. Sotomayor introduced a fiance, Peter White, at her 1997 appellate court confirmation hearing, but the engagement appears to have fizzled -- and there's no evidence of a current romance. Who's going to accompany her to those fancy White House dinners?


In this July 16, 1966, photo, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, 67, and his fourth wife, 23-year-old Cathleen Heffernan, meet the press the day after their marriage in a Los Angeles suburb. (AP File Photo)Enlarge Image

"She looks a lot younger than her age," said David Lat, founder of legal blog Above the Law. "When I saw her on television this morning, I wondered what her secret was. I could totally imagine her having the pick of young, eligible men in Washington."

Then again, matchmakers had high hopes for David Souter when he first landed in D.C. -- until he spent the next 19 years behind his desk. He hated Washington parties, so no love connections here.

A bad sign: Sotomayor reportedly has Souter's workaholic tendencies. "This is becoming the single person's seat on the court," Lat said.

Unmarried Supreme Court justices are very rare (Frank Murphy, Benjamin Cardozo, James McReynolds); most come to the bench with longtime spouses and family. Only one is as well known for his love life as for his court opinions: William O. Douglas.


Sotomayor puts on her robe with help from then-fiance Peter White after taking oath of office for the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York in November 1998. (Adam Nadel/AP)

Douglas, who served on the court from 1939 to 1975, scandalized Washington when he became the first sitting justice to divorce after splitting from his first wife in 1954. After a marriage spree with much younger women, he also became the first sitting justice to divorce for the second and third time. He created his biggest sensation in 1966 when he married his last wife, Cathleen Heffernan, a waitress and student at an all-girls college. He was 67, she was 23.

By The Reliable Source  |  May 27, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
 
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