President Barack Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor at least in part because she adds "diversity" to the court — she's a woman, and a Hispanic, those shoring up the administration's ties with two key constituencies.
Jeffrey Toobin has written a fascinating article for the "New Yorker" noting that diversity, although it wasn't always called that, has long been a concern for U.S. presidents. Early presidents had to be careful to make sure all regions of the country were represented. "So Presidents came to honor an informal tradition of preserving a New England seat, a Virginia seat, a Pennsylvania seat, and a New York seat on the Court," Toobin writes.
Religious diversity also was important for a time on the court, although it's less important now. Did you know — or care — that if Sotomayor is confirmed, there will be six Catholics on the Supreme Court?