Justice Sonia Sotomayor is stepping out more in public in her sophomore year on the Supreme Court. She spoke in Denver Thursday, one of several talks she has given this summer after declining most invitations last term. Her Denver talk was co-sponsored by the Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence. She was on her way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit's conference being held in Colorado Springs today and tomorrow.
According to this Denver Post article, Sotomayor gave some rare glimpses into her childhood as well as her first year on the high court. When she was a toddler, she said she had a stubborn streak that has lasted all her life. She said she would puff out her cheeks when her mother tried to feed her, and when her mother poked her cheeks, she would resist even more.
"I keep getting knocked down and I keep getting up," Sotomayor told her audience at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. She recalled that when President Bill Clinton first nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, she was reluctant to leave the trial bench. But when she learned there was opposition to her nomination, her stubbornness kicked in."If they hadn't fought so hard, I would have given up earlier," she said. "I didn't want to let them beat me."
She also indicated that she viewed some of the criticism of her nomination to the Supreme Court as related to her ethnic background "People kept accusing me of not being smart enough. Can anyone explain other than I am Hispanic why that would be?"
Her only comment about cases she has participated in came when an audience member asked if the Court was chipping away at Miranda rights in a case last term in which Sotomayor dissented -- a reference to Berghuis v. Thompkins, decided June 1. The Court ruled 5-4 that a suspect must unambiguously invoke his or her Miranda right to remain silent before police can be required to stop questioning.
According to the Denver Post account, Sotomayor replied,"I do think I was right. I think the (majority) were wrong. But I don't think they did it with intent to erode Miranda." She recalled a bit of advice her predecessor David Souter had given her: "This job will be infinitely easier for you if you believe the people you work with are acting in good faith."