Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor famously was part of only the third class at Princeton University to allow women. This Friday, as part of an alumni weekend, she returned to the campus for an hour-long conversation with Princeton President Shirley Tilghman before a reported 1,400 female alumns.
According to the National Journal, which covered the closed-door event, the Justice spoke about going from a childhood in New York City’s South Bronx to the hallways of the Supreme Court, saying that it still felt “dream-like.”
“Don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up,” she said reportedly.
She mentioned facing “subtle” discrimination throughout her career, and said she appreciates her importance as a role model. And while all the public attention she now gets can be overwhelming, the Justice said she reminds herself that when strangers approach her, “It’s a gift they’re giving me.” (Indeed, the Journal writes that when Sotomayor walked into the room for the Princeton event, “there were shrieks and cheers and cries of ‘Sonia!’”)
Sotomayor was candid about the indignities of the nomination process, mentioning that the weekend before President Obama officially named her as his Supreme Court pick, the White House peppered her with queries and multiple reminders that the nomination was far from tied up. So much so that when her brother decided to buy suits for his twin sons in case they got the chance to go to the White House with her, she called and said, “Don’t take the price tags off.”
The Journal quotes Sotomayor as saying the nomination process “needs to be reformed.” While senators "open and candid" in one-on-one meetings, Sotomayor said, during the public confirmation hearings, "They were not interested in my answers." Instead, she said, what was important to them was “their questions.”
Among her suggestions for reform? The addition of "an Oprah Winfrey moment" during the confirmation process "where senators ask about you as a person" and so gain insight into values and character.
Overall, Sotomayor said she’s been happily surprised by the warm relationships among her ideologically diverse colleagues. The one most like her in temperament? Conservative constitutional originalist Antonin Scalia, the erstwhile “wise Latina” said.
Both are, according to her, “Loud, boisterous, in-your-face.”
Source: National Journal.