Sonia Sotomayor, Human Being
It was hard to get a feel for Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her hearings.
She was obviously brilliant, well-reasoned and incredibly articulate — but beyond the occasional references to her Bronx upbringing and love of baseball, her personality seemed mostly under wraps. That was different from Chief Justice John Robert’s hearings, where he charmed the Senate Judiciary Committee, and more recently, Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s confirmation where she even got Sen. Arlen Specter to chuckle. But Sotomayor seemed sterile in the week of hearings, probably in large part due to the fact that her identity with her race and culture (the infamous “wise Latina” remarks) would come part and parcel with any openness.
But finally, we’re getting a glimpse into Sotomayor, Human Being, and what we’re seeing is very likeable. Sotomayor spoke with C-Span as part of an ongoing Supreme Court series starting October 4. In the excerpted interview released today, she discusses the moments leading up to the call from Obama, and they’re about as “human” as you can get:
Sotomayor was packing in her lower Manhattan home when the White House operator called at 8:10 p.m. “I actually stood by my balcony doors, and I had the — my cellphone in my right hand and I had my left hand over my chest trying to calm my beating heart, literally,” Sotomayor said. “And the president got on the phone and said to me, ‘Judge, I would like to announce you as my selection to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.’
“And I said to him — I caught my breath and started to cry and said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ That was what the moment was like.”
The words paint a compelling picture of Sotomayor, and it’ll be interesting to hear what else the interviews reveal about the Court’s newest justice.