Woman of color firsts: Justice Sonia Sotomayor to swear in Kamala Harris Wednesday

Harris, first female vice president elect, to take oath of office from Justice Sotomayor, the first Latina on the Supreme Court

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On Wednesday, Kamala Harris will officially become the first U.S. vice president who is a woman and of Black and Asian descent.

When the California Democrat takes the oath of office, she will be sworn in by the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court.

CNN reports that Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be on hand at Wednesday’s inauguration to swear in Harris. Sotomayor, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2009, is the first Latina and the third woman to be a member of the high court.

READ MORE: Vice President-Elect Harris to resign her Senate seat Monday

Sotomayor and Harris shared more in common than being barrier-breaking women in U.S. government. Both of them were once prosecutors. Sotomayor was a prosecutor in New York and Harris in California.

In addition, Harris will also honor the first Black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, by using his bible during the ceremony, according to ABC News. Marshall was nominated to the court in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served as an associate justice until retiring in 1991.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (left) and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right)

Harris credited Marshall as one of her inspirations to go into law. She posted a video on Twitter last July honoring her fellow Howard University alumnus on his birthday.

“As a daughter of parents who were active in the civil rights movement, I knew that the fight for civil rights, the fight for equality, the fight for justice is going to take place in many ways,” Harris stated, “but one of the most significant ways (is) by lawyers understanding the power of their advocacy to make change and to make reform happen.” 

During the swearing in at the U.S. Capitol, Harris will also use a second bible that once belonged to a family friend and childhood neighbor, Regina Shelton. It will be the third time she uses Shelton’s bible during a swearing ceremony. The previous two were after Harris was elected California attorney general in 2010 and California senator in 2016.

She plans to resign her Senate seat Monday.

Joining Harris will be President-Elect Joe Biden who be sworn-in as President that same day. Sotomayor also swore in Biden for his second term as Vice President in 2013, according to the New York Times. It has yet to be confirmed who will preside over Biden’s Presidential oath, but according to whitehousehistory.org, the President-Elect is traditionally sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Both President Obama and President Donald Trump were sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.

As previously reported by TheGrio, Biden has stated his intentions to nominate a Black female Supreme Court Justice during his Administration should he win the election. “Number one I committed that if I’m elected as president and have the opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, I’ll appoint the first Black woman to the Court,” Biden said. “It’s required that they have representation now — it’s long overdue.”

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (R) swears in U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the public ceremonial inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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