Friday, July 17, 2009

A Sotomayor story makes an impact

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor fielded one of the most general questions in her Senate confirmation hearings -- "Why do you want to be a Supreme Court Justice?" from newly seated Senator Al Franken -- and used it as an opportunity to tell a story. The answer was a refreshing change from the formal answers to queries on jurisprudence, and, as most personal stories do, brought the speaker to life. Here's what she said, from the transcript:
When Senator Moynihan first told me that he would consider sending my name to Senator D'Amato for consideration as a district court judge, he asked me to keep it quiet for a little bit of time, and I asked permission to tell my mom and Omar. He said, sure.

So they were visiting and I told them. And Mom was very, very excited. And she then said, "How much more money are you going to earn?" (Laughter.) And I stopped and I said, "I'm going to take a big pay cut."

Then she stopped, and she stopped, and she said, "Are you going to do as much foreign travel as you do now?" Because I was flying all over the U.S. and abroad as part of my private-practice work. And I said, "Probably not, because I'm going to live in a courthouse in Lower Manhattan near where I used to work as a Manhattan DA."

Now the pause was a little longer. And she said, "Okay."

Then she said, "Now all the fascinating clients that you work with"—as you may have heard yesterday, I had some fairly well-known clients—"you're going to be able to go traveling with them and with the new people you meet, right?" And I said, "No. Most of them are going to come before me as litigants to the cases I'm hearing, and I can't become friends with them."

Now the pause was really long. And she finally looked up, and she says, "Why do you want this job?" (Laughter.)

And Omar, who was sitting next to her, said, "Celina, you know your daughter—" this is in Spanish "—you know your daughter, and her stuff with public service." That really has always been the answer.

Given who I am, my love of the law, my sense of importance about the rule of law, how central it is to the functioning of our society, how it sets us apart, as many senators have noted, from the rest of the world—have always created a passion in me. And that passion led me to want to be a lawyer first, and now to be a judge, because I can't think of any greater service that I can give to the country than to be permitted the privilege of being a justice of the Supreme Court.
(Photo by talkradionews on Flickr.)

No comments: