Justice Sotomayor bemoans lack of diverse backgrounds on top court


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor brought her campaign to get Americans more involved in civics to Atlanta on Tuesday and lamented the lack of diversity on the court in some areas.

Sotomayor, in a question-and answer session at Emory University, explained she wrote her book “My Beloved World,” in part to share her story about how others helped her succeed.

“I knew then and I know now that I am not self-made, because no one is. Have you ever heard titans of business who talk about being self-made?” Sotomayor said to laughter and then applause, in what was largely seen as a reference to President Donald Trump.

“We all laughed because we knew who she was talking about,” said Emory University Law School staffer Danny Kim.

Trump has reportedly said he expects to replace Sotomayor on the court because of her health. Sotomayor has diabetes, but has not indicated any retirement plans.

Kim added that he appreciated Sotomayor’s comments throughout the hour-long discussion about the importance of working with people who have different viewpoints.

Sotomayor, 63, the first Hispanic justice on the court, walked the aisles of Emory’s Glenn Memorial Auditorium, shaking hands with many audience members throughout the discussion attended by about 1,200 students, judges and other guests.

When asked about diversity on the court, Sotomayor noted all nine justices attended Ivy League colleges, none have experience in immigration or environmental law and only one, Anthony Kennedy, has criminal defense experience.

“None of this should make a difference, but I happen to believe that it does,” she said. “It’s the quality of the conversation. It’s a richer, broader conversation when you have people from difference experiences participating.”

Third-year Emory law student Meredith Barnett said she appreciated the justice’s comments.

“I thought she was very inspiring and heartfelt about what the Supreme Court lacks in diversity,” she said.

Sotomayor urged those in her audience to get involved in their communities, discussing a program she’s involved in aimed primarily at helping middle school students with language difficulties improve their reading skills. Civic engagement is a theme she has relayed in speeches in other cities.

Ten-year-old Ava Mason, who came to the discussion with her mother, Erica, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, was greeted with a hug from Sotomayor. She called the moment “cool.”

“She’a a great Latina lawyer,” Ava said of Sotomayor.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Arm teachers at school? Most metro Atlanta districts say no
Arm teachers at school? Most metro Atlanta districts say no

Laura Morse said the idea of adding first-responder duties to teachers by giving them guns is not one she welcomes. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would like to see some teachers armed and trained to assist during school shootings, saying they would impact a situation faster than it would take law enforcement to arrive. After last week&rsquo...
Kennesaw State’s campus speech zones unconstitutional, lawsuit says
Kennesaw State’s campus speech zones unconstitutional, lawsuit says

A Christian student organization is suing Kennesaw State University, saying its rules for where students can speak and post displays on campus are restrictive and unconstitutional. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on Tuesday against the university on behalf of Ratio Christi, which describes itself as...
Pro athletes gather at Morehouse College for social-justice workshop
Pro athletes gather at Morehouse College for social-justice workshop

More than two dozen current and former professional athletes are in Atlanta learning ways to promote social-justice causes, a result of last year’s contentious debate over the appropriateness of some football players kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness about police misconduct and other issues. The visitors are at a three-day...
In gunfights, trained officers have 18 percent hit rate. Yet, we want to arm teachers?
In gunfights, trained officers have 18 percent hit rate. Yet, we want to arm teachers?
After meeting Wednesday with student survivors and parents of teens killed in last week’s shooting spree at a Florida high school, President Donald Trump endorsed the idea of arming teachers. "If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly," he said today. "This would be obviously only...
Altered test scores years ago altered lives, stained Atlanta schools
Altered test scores years ago altered lives, stained Atlanta schools

Beverly Hall burnished her reputation as the make-no-excuses superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools using rapidly rising test scores from schools in the district’s poorest neighborhoods. There was one big problem: The test results were fake. In 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported suspicious scores on the state’s Criterion-Referenced...
More Stories