Supreme Court docket Justice Sonia Sotomayor talked life, differing views — and just a little poker — at WashU | Regulation and order

Dana Rieck
St. Louis Submit-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — Even because the contentious battle to substantiate the nation’s first Black feminine Supreme Court docket justice rages on within the Senate, Justice Sonia Sotomayor introduced a way of levity by means of her humor throughout a chat at Washington College on Tuesday afternoon.

Sotomayor was in St. Louis this week to sit down down with the varsity’s chancellor, Andrew Martin, to reply questions, share private anecdotes and dole out life recommendation to the masked-up faculty college students who filed into the St. Louis Subject Home.

Serving as the primary Hispanic and the third lady on the nation’s highest court docket, she touched on matters from self consciousness, household and private progress to approaching the justice system as a minority and exhibiting empathy as a decide.



Supreme Court docket Affiliate Justice Sonia Sotomayor smiles to acknowledge the group’s applause after she completed talking throughout occasion at Washington College in St. Louis on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Picture by David Carson, [email protected]


David Carson


Oh, and he or she let everybody find out about her newfound curiosity in poker.

“My taking part in is a little bit of a charity. I invite folks to my dwelling, I feed them, I give all of them the liquor they need … and so once I win their cash, I don’t must report it,” she joked.

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However extra critically, Sotomayor mentioned she is engaged and dedicated to serving to folks perceive how necessary their obligation to raised the world is — a worth instilled in her by her mom and grandmother whereas rising up within the Bronx.

Sotomayor additionally advised the viewers she believes the trail to self consciousness and success includes a couple of key components: looking for out mentorship, understanding and acknowledging one’s personal fault in a state of affairs and having the braveness to say “I don’t know.”

The justice slowly meandered her approach by means of the viewers for many of the speak, shaking folks’s palms and even taking pictures with college students all whereas answering questions and reflecting on her experiences.

One individual requested her how she approached discussing polarizing points such because the Civil Rights motion and the Vietnam Struggle throughout her early life as a younger lady, and what recommendation she would give younger folks navigating right this moment’s politically polarized panorama.

Sotomayor mentioned she tries onerous to see the nice in everybody, one thing the justice’s mom, who died final yr, was steadfast in doing all through her life.

“You’re going to vary in views with folks and a few of these views shall be or really feel offensive to you,” she mentioned.

Sotomayor shared her expertise through the Supreme Court docket affirmation course of, in how she was damage when folks mentioned she wasn’t sensible sufficient for the place and was solely nominated on account of affirmative motion efforts.

“[They forget] you don’t decide an individual by who opens the door, you decide them by what they did once they went by means of the door,” she mentioned.

Sotomayor advised the group nevertheless damage they might be by one other’s views, they need to not write folks off.

“Cease screaming, hear, attempt to put your self within the sneakers of that different individual, attempt to determine what it’s they’re feeling and why they really feel that approach,” she mentioned.

As for an additional query, about how you can belief the justice system as a minority understanding it has failed these teams of individuals previously, she mentioned it’s necessary to take the lengthy view and acknowledge the, albeit sluggish, progress the system has made.

“That’s how I hold confidence, by realizing sure, there have been inherent flaws in our system of justice however I’m right here working as onerous as I can, even once I dissent, to attempt to keep away from us going off within the mistaken path,” she mentioned.

Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama on Might 26, 2009, and the Senate confirmed her on Aug. 6, 2009, with a 68-31 vote divided largely alongside occasion traces.

The primary Black lady nominated to the excessive court docket, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is predicted to be confirmed within the coming weeks.

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