President Obama will nominate federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court Tuesday, FOX News has learned.
Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Hispanic on the high court if confirmed. She would succeed outgoing Justice David Souter.
Sotomayor's selection indicates that Obama is interested in diversifying the court. If she is confirmed, Sotomayor would also be just the third woman to ever sit on the Supreme Court bench, joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Obama had said he's looking for a nominee who demonstrates empathy and "intellectual fire power," as well as possesses what he calls the "common touch." Sotomayor, a judge for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, could fit this criteria.
She is the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants and was raised in a Bronx housing project. She has dealt with diabetes since age 8 and lost her father at age 9, growing up under the care of her mother. Sotomayor supposedly became interested in law after watching the TV show "Perry Mason."
She later graduated from Princeton University and earned her law degree from Yale University. Sotomayor was appointed a federal district court judge in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush and then elevated to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton. At that time, Republicans held up her confirmation, but she eventually passed the Senate 68-28.
Souter generally sided with the liberal wing of the high court, so Obama's selection would not tilt the ideological balance of the body. But Sotomayor is considered one of the most liberal of Obama's potential nominees, and could set off a fight from the right during confirmation -- even though Republicans are far outnumbered on Capitol Hill.
"This is not a bipartisan, consensus pick," one senior GOP Senate leadership aide told FOX News.
As an appellate judge, she sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case brought by white firefighters after the city threw out results of a promotion exam because two few minorities scored high enough. Ironically, that case is now before the Supreme Court.
Obama's nomination is the first by a Democratic president in 15 years.
His announcement also leaves the Senate four months -- more than enough by traditional standards -- to complete confirmation proceedings before the Court begins its next term in the fall.
Republicans have issued conflicting signals about their intentions. While some have threatened filibusters if they deemed Obama's pick too liberal, others have said that is unlikely.
The announcement, set for 10:15 a.m. ET, comes after the president met with his legal team Monday at the White House to discuss the selection. He also read through written material on potential picks over the weekend at Camp David, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The president had kept a tight lid on the identity of the nominee. The presumptive short list included several women, including federal appeals court judges Sotomayor and Diane Wood.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Solicitor General Elena Kagan were also considered possible nominees, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and others.