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tv   Interview with Justice Sonia Sotomayor The Beloved World Of Sonia...  CSPAN  December 27, 2018 2:54am-3:20am EST

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>> thank you so much. thank you so much. [cheering and applause] >> if you wait on line i will sign your book. i will not leave until everybody with the book as a signature. sent in hundreds of questions. it will be for 5 hours before we let you go. we are talking about the beloved world of sonja sotomayor. the on adults book,
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autobiography, my beloved world, her best-selling autobiography of a couple years ago and this is a question from zoe who goes to school at bethel high school in hampton, virginia. how did books open the world to you? >> i have written extensively that you may consider too young for you, turning pages, you see me walking up the supreme court steps. when you look at the key, it is the key to my success. the books opening the world to me. we live in our neighborhoods, we know our teachers,
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classmates, maybe some of their families, but the world is a very big place and in many ways we are a very small person. one person among billions and billions of people and the only way i could access that very big world and even the big universe was through books. books let me see possibilities i never knew existed. they let me realize how big the world was and how many opportunities there were in the world for me. so they were and still are the key to my success in life in the key of success for anyone because through books we can find out not just who we are, but to imagine the place we inhabit in this world. >> host: in the beloved world of sonja sotomayor you talk
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about the neighborhood library. >> guest: as you know and kids will learn through my book, my fourth grade in school was very sad because my dad died. he had been ill for a very long time and when he passed away he had a great deal of sadness in my home and i was fortunate enough to find the local library. at that time, it is no longer true now, the library was on the same floor as macy's, a department store. my mom and i were there at macy's one afternoon and i saw a direction sign that said public library, pointing to the back of the floor. ..
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it became my place where i could escape from the sadness in my home and find a way to imagine myself somewhere else, and that's still books from my escape, when i'm sad i pick up a book and i start reading and i immediately either laugh if it's a funny book, if it's a serious book it makes me think about something else and if it's just a book about information i start thinking pictures in my head of
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what the words are creating for me. books can be all of those things, a place to escape, a place of adventure, they can be a laboratory for you to experiment in your head with different things, there are so many things that books can do for you, so for me, that finding of that library was an eye-opener for me. >> this is cielita, skyline middle college in san bruno city, california, several questions along this line. what is one thing that you're most proud of being the first latina on the supreme court? >> oh, you know, no one has asked me that question, how interesting, what am i most proud of. i think what i'm most proud of in my life was reflected the day i was sworn into the supreme
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court in my public ceremony. i was in the courts -- courtroom which is quite beautiful and i was sitting facing the court until they call you up to be sworn in, you sit in the seats john marshal, one of the most influential justices of the supreme court or the earliest justices, at any rate as i was sitting there, i was looking at my mom and i was looking at my entire family and most of my life-long friends. they had come from around the world literally, my entire family had come from puerto rico and in that moment, i realized that no matter how successful you are, it's really only meaningful if your family and friends come with you.
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if they share your life with you, then that is success. there are a lot of people who work very, very hard and who are very, very successful but they sort of break away from the people who really started with them and i've never done that. success you measure by how much people walk along with you, not by who you leave behind and i hope i've blessed very few people if any. >> well, i know that your mother is down here in miami. >> she is, she's the smart one, she's inside staying cool, it's a little hot out here. [laughter] >> another question from a student and this is lila baker from soda creek elementary school, colorado, who supported and inspired your interest in the law? >> who supported and inspired my interest in the law?
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interestingly enough there were no lawyers or judges in my family so i didn't really have someone close to me who knew enough about law to be able to guide my interest. i didn't find my mentors in law until i actually got into law school and there i found people who obviously knew much more about the law and how to be successful in it than anyone else in my life and so there was one professor administrator at yale law school, his name was josé cabranes and jose was the leader in the puerto rican legal community and generally he was general counsel to yale and he taught at a high school and he befriended me and he's been my mentor ever since. the most telling moment for us was when i joined the second
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circuit court of appeals. he was a judge there and one day he says that the stringest moment for him was when his students became his colleague on the court. >> you were appointed to that position by george h.w. bush, correct? >> i was. >> people sometimes forget that and to the supreme court by president barack obama. >> and to the court of appeals by president clinton. it is unusual for a justice to have served on the either two courts. there's only three justices in the history of the united states who have served on all three levels and it seems to happen about every 100 years, so the last one was almost 100 years ago. >> all right, oliver, oliver corpus, university high school, irvine, california. >> you have kids from all over the country. >> we have literally hundreds of questions from the kids, we are
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really pleased at the response that we got from them, but oliver would like to know, do you and the other justices ever hang out outside of the courtroom? [laughter] >> we hang out all of the time. i spend more time with those 8 other justices than i have with any other group of judges in my life and that's because we hear every case together. we are in the courtroom listening to every case that we decide as a group of 9 and after we have oral arguments which is about 5 to 6 times a month, we have lunch together and every friday we have a conference and we have lunch on those conferences. we also have lots and lots of dinners together on the court because there's always -- the airplane above us --
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>> it's okay. >> it's all right. sorry, kids. there's a plane overhead so i can't even hear myself, sorry, but we also have a lot of dinners together because there's a lot of formal events. if you're asking do we ever socialize outside the courthouse, not as a group generally, although once in a while there's an event that we would all go, as some of them may have seen on tv when a justice has a celebration at the white house, most of us will go because it's a new colleague joining the court but occasionally we go to the theater together, we go listen to music, we have dinner at each other's houses, we are actually very friendly to each other even though we disagree a lot. we are the one institution in government that kids should know we still like each other even though we don't have the same opinion because we know that you
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can agree and you don't have to be disagreeable. you can differ in what you think as long as you're willing to have an open mind and talk about those differences. you can still be friends. >> justice sotomayor one of the rumors in washington is that you really know how to host a really nice dinner party, fun dinner party, is it truth to that? >> there's a lot of truth to that, first, i love food and second i love people and so for me having dinner with friends and hosting and making people relax and enjoy themselves and laugh a lot is very important. >> this is something that you discuss in your book, the beloved world of sonia sotomayor and this is a question from garrett jensen, stanford university palo alto, california, given that november is diabetes month can you discus
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how diabetes played role in career development and how those living with disabilities can also manage to reach the highest levels? >> one of the things that's been most important in my life with diabetes is really realizing how precious life is. when you have a disability or a chronic condition, you appreciate every minute that you have in life. you know that you have to take advantage of every moment that you're permitted to enjoy yourself and have in this world and so for me, my diabetes taught me discipline, it taught me how to take care of myself, how to stay healthy, it taught me that every day i had to bring out of life as much as i could
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and so i studied very hard, i did a lot of after-school activities. on friday and saturday night i partied a lot and saturday and sunday during the day i worked because my family was poor and we needed to earn a little bit of extra money. i still to this day do the same thing. i enjoy every second of my life because my condition has taught me that it's valuable and for those of us who face chronic challenges, we should have pride, we should have pride in our courage, in our ability to take care of ourselves and in our ability to accept help when we need it because there's a lot of people who don't realize how important that is and so for me
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it was a blessing. it's taught me something that a lot of other people waste a lot of time not appreciating. >> now, justice sotomayor, we noticed this at the national book festival when you were doing your presentation, you got up off the stage and were down in the audience and i presume you're going to do that a little bit later at the miami book fair? >> if you didn't have me strapped down in the chair with this mic i would be out there. [laughter] >> you know, it happens naturally at my very, very first book event in washington, d.c. it was a huge haul with i don't remember, it was over a thousand people and i was up on this stage and i could hear people laughing or clapping but i really couldn't see them and at one point as i was walking back
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and forth on the stage i thought to myself i want to see them. i want to say hello to them and all the time waiting and i got off the stage and there's a lot of ooh's and awe's and it was so much more personal and so much a connection between me and the audience that i felt why don't people do this more and i really don't understand why they don't, so i've continued to do it and it's been wonderful. do you know how many hugs i get when i walk around? and every one of those hugs particularly now because this is a children's book and there's a lot of kids in the audience, i've told people i've collected thousands and thousands of hugs, it's the best part of the book
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tour. >> sasha thorton, does growing up in the bronx have any part in your discussion-making? >> i think wherever anyone grows up becomes a part of them. it's the sights, it's the smell, the memory of people and places and things, everything builds up a core of memory in your mind. you know, when i was growing up my grandmother lived in an apartment building on a floor that faced a running elevated train and that train like the airplanes that are going off above used to pass by every 10 or 15 minutes. the first day i was in that apartment i thought to myself, how can she sleep, how can you ignore the loud noise of that train and over time i learned
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that it just becomes background noise and i used to play in her apartment and i would look out the window at the passing trains and i would wave at people who were in the train and some of them would wave back and occasionally i would stick my tongue at them and run to the back of the room or make faces at them, but those are moments that have been marked in my mind, they are my moment and, sure, your identity gets swarmed by the place you live in. mine was a hard neighborhood. it was very crime-ridden. our family was very, very poor, they worked very, very hard. all of those things become a part of sonia, but sonia is also a lot of other things. i went to a fairly elite college
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and elite law school. i have been a prosecutor, i have been for a company that represented some very, very rich clients including maybe kids know ferrari the race car and i represented ferrari, so all of that -- altogether is a piece -- a little piece of me. >> one of the characters in your book, a real person reading the book just to learn about abuelita, your last moments with abuelita, you write about her. >> do i, abuelita, my grandmother, was probably the most important person in my life next to my grandmother. she was everything to me and i describe? the book how we didn't look anything alike, she had a long face, i have a round face. i have very curly, she had very
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long straight hair. not completely straight, a little wave but not curly and mine was a curly mop, we didn't look alike but we shared a spirit, everything about us was the same, we loved people, we loved parties together, she's the one who taught me the beauty of words because she had poems memorized and she would talk about them and, yes, i was there the last day of her life, she had been sick with cancer. i was away in college, these are the days before cell phones and every call you made home was very expensive but i knew he was sick and i would call home at least once a week to try to talk to her. when i came home that semester from college i went to the hospital and spent every day i could with her and this was a christmas eve of the year she
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died and all the rest of my family except for one cousin went home and he and i went out and bought her a small christmas tree for her bedside and we put the christmas tree there and i sat there, he actually walked out of the room and she started to talk to me and she died in my arms. it's a moment that i will never forget, but there was a young girl this morning, i was meeting with a group of kids from an organization called amigos for kids in little havana and a young little girl asked me, did it hurt a lot when your grandmother died, and i told her it hurt like anything and i cried and i cried and i cried but once i stopped crying i remembered, and to this day i think of my abuelita almost
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every single day and i know that she's still alive in here and in all of my memory she's never died there and in those ways no one ever dies forever because we stay alive in the memory of people who love us. >> mohamed khan, ocean township high school, ocean, new jersey. >> now, that's close the other my home. >> there you go. [laughter] >> well, he would like to know if you ever considered running for president or office? >> no. [laughter] >> i love my job, first, i absolutely love being a lawyer, second i absolutely love and adore being a justice. i get to think about and be a voice in the decisions of the most important legal questions in the united states and
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sometimes in the world. for me it's the perfect job for me. everybody has their own perfect job and we don't all like the same thing, but i've never been interested in elected office but i have always been interested in law and the good that it can do for people, so for me, this is the right job for me. >> justice sotomayor, we are out of time and we are getting gette rap signal. >> they want us to go away? >> they want us to go away. we literally have hundreds of weeks for you in a 3-day span. we want to thank students and teachers for sending them in and any time we are back in dc and you want to come over and answer some more, we would love to talk to you. >> i would be delighted. >> my beloved world, the beloved world of sotomayor the young reader's edition and she has an even younger edition of the book turning pages. i want to show you that cover
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right now, justice sonia sotomayor, you will see her later in coverage of miami book fair. thank you,
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