Sonia Sotomayor

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There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor (born 25 June 1954) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (since 2009), and a former judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1998–2009) and of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (1992–1998).

Sourced[edit]

  • I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.
  • In such cases, one can feel powerless and wonder why the others were not persuaded by what one took to be so salient in the case. There is, on the other hand, a singularly satisfying feeling that one gets when one has arrived at a particularly penetrating analysis and is able to convince both of one's colleagues of its merit.
  • I understand Justice Scalia's jurisprudence to begin with a proposition that we should all agree to — namely, that judges should try to interpret the law correctly, and without personal or political bias.
    • Speech in 2000, reported in "Sotomayor's jackpot win, court rulings revealed" at MSNBC (5 June 2009)
  • I find the speech in this case patently offensive, hateful, and insulting. The Court should not, however, gloss over three decades of jurisprudence and the centrality of First Amendment freedoms in our lives because it is confronted with speech it does not like.
    • Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2002) (dissenting).

Address to the Raising the Bar symposium (2001)[edit]

"A Latina judge's voice": Judge Sonia Sotomayor's 2001 address to the 'Raising the Bar' symposium at the UC Berkeley School of Law, berkeley.edu, published May 26, 2009.
  • America has a deeply confused image of itself that is in perpetual tension. We are a nation that takes pride in our ethnic diversity, recognizing its importance in shaping our society and in adding richness to its existence. Yet, we simultaneously insist that we can and must function and live in a race and color-blind way that ignore these very differences that in other contexts we laud. That tension between "the melting pot and the salad bowl" – a recently popular metaphor used to described New York's diversity – is being hotly debated today in national discussions about affirmative action.
  • In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women.
  • Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
  • I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate. There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.

External links[edit]

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