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tv   Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O Connors Judicial Impact  CSPAN  November 5, 2019 8:01pm-9:13pm EST

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>> good evening, everyone. on behalf of the reagan foundation institute, thank you for joining us this evening. i have the pleasure of introducing our two panelists and ted olsen in a moment. we have a number of distinguished guests with us. i would like to take a moment to thank justice brett kavanaugh for joining us this evening. it's an honor to have you with us. thank you. today has been a
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time to celebrate the legacy of the first woman appointed to the united states supreme court. this evening we have the privilege of welcoming the second and the third. we're extraordinarily grateful to justices ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor to join us to honor sandra day o'connor. it turns out that justice ginsberg and justice o'connor share an unusual distinction and that is interesting nicknames. when justice o'connor was confirmed she earned the moniker fwoc for first woman on the supreme court. justice ginsburg has been crowned the notorious rbg. i'll leave it to you to decide which one is catchier. they share a lifelong commitment to expanding opportunities for women. it makes sense when justice ginsburg joins justice o'connor on the bench in 1993, the two bonded over their historic role in transforming the supreme court. both justices had to overcome
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discrimination and professional rejection, but justice o'connor once put a helpful spin on it if they had come of age when women could easily be lawyers, she told justice ginsburg, they would probably end up as retired partners at some law firm. but because that route was not open to us, justice o'connor explained, we had to find another way and we both ended up in the united states supreme court. one woman they inspired was a young attorney in manhattan. she had been working in the da's office in 1981 when she heard president reagan had nominated sandra day o'connor. just two years earlier, she and her law school classmates had wondered allowed if they would ever see a woman on the supreme court in their lifetimes. little did sonia sotomayor imagine that 20 years later she would become the third woman on the court and make history in other own right as the first latina justice.
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these three women come from very different backgrounds. one grew up shooting jack rob bits on a ranch in arizona. one is descendents of jewish immigrants and the other visited her parents native puerto rico. they followed three separate paths to the american dream but ended up in the same place as a accomplished lawyers, courageous trail blazers, inspiring role models and associate justices of the supreme court. we're deeply grateful to them for all that they have done and all they represent. joining us justices ginsburg and sotomayor on stage this evening is reagan foundation trustee and former solicitor general ted olsen. ted has argued more than 60 cases before the supreme court, so he's used to taking questions from justices ginsburg and sotomayor. but tonight the table it is are turned. ted finally gets to ask the questions. and that may be
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why he's worked so hard to help organize this event. we are deeply grateful to his efforts for making today's conversation possible. so, now, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the honorable associate justices of the supreme court, ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor. >> thank you, everyone. please, be seated. please, be seated. thank you. thank you. thank you. sit down. >> i know most
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of that was for the justices. we are so honored at the reagan institute to have this program today which those of you who have been here from the beginning know it's been a marvelous, marvelous experience. we have had many of justice o'connor's clerks here, some of her friends and colleagues talking about her legacy, what it meant when she was appointed to the supreme court, a bit about her juris prudence and it's been an exciting, interesting conversation and we worried as i was hearing this, what can we add to that because we're going to talk about some of the same things. the audience heard a
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lot about justice o'connor and her juris prudence and what she meant to the court and to america. but they didn't hear it from only perspective that the two of you can provide. her colleagues in the history of the united states supreme court and so i'm going to ask some of the questions that the people here i'm sure are interested to learn about. i'll start with you, justice ginsburg. what was your reaction and what were your feelings when you first heard that justice o'connor was going to be nominated to be on the united states supreme court? >> i was driving home from the d.c. circuit and turned on the news and the nomination of sandra day o'connor was announced. i said, hallelujah. but i also thought, this is a
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sign that what jimmy carter began is going to be advanced forward. and what jimmy carter began, it was to change the complexion of the u.s. judiciary. when he became president, it was only one woman on a federal court of appeals, he made her the first ever secretary of education. and then he went on >> shirley hefsted? >> yes. carter, even though he only had four years and no supreme court vacancy to fill, he did literally change the complexion of the federal courts by appointing women and members of minority groups in numbers. i think president reagan was saying, jimmy
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cardter was right and i am going to make the big stride forward appointing a woman to the u.s. supreme court. >> so you saw this as a continuum of what president carter had started. it and it was a change in the opportunities for women to be a part of the judiciary anyway anywhere. >> yes. people sometimes ask, did you always want to be a supreme court justice? i said, in the ancient days when justice o'connor and i graduated from law school, what we wanted was a job, any job. >> well, we won't talk too much about the job opportunities, at least at the beginning. justice sotomayor, where were you and how did you learn about this nomination, this appointment? and what was your reaction? >> at the time, i was an assistant district attorney in new york county. and i was working hard but as all of you know, ruth works
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harder than most of us. so, i got to see it on news that night. and, to me, i had just graduated from law school a year and a half before, maybe two two a year before, a year before. and at the time there were obviously no women on the supreme court. there were hardly any women in the federal judiciary. there were, i think, maybe one or two women on the supreme courts of other states. and the idea people, law firms were touting they were progressive when they had one woman partner among a hundred. so, what ruth had started, i still had not seen the progress being made in any significant numbers just yet. but the
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appointment of sandra gave me hope. it opened the door to me thinking that the progress would move faster than i had imagined. didn't move quite as fast as i had hoped. and still some steps to be taken. but it was a door opener. it was an opportunity for women to begin to see the possibility of exploring all aspects of our profession. you see, the advantage of diversity, whether it's gender or race or ethnicity, or even professional work, whatever the diversity represents, it gives people who don't otherwise think there's
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opportunity. it aspires them to believe there might be. so, i think seeing a woman on the court inspired not just me but so many other young women who are starting their careers. >> do you think, justice sotomayor, that justice o'connor has very special qualities in terms of her character, her background, her upbringing, her, >> well, i'll tell you what i thought when i heard, >> that made her be a first or, >> the only thing that scared me was she was a woman who had done it all. she was married. she raised children. she had served
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in the legislature. she had served in the court system. and i taught to myself, oh, my god, if that's the standard, i'm going to be held to, i'm not going to accomplish anything. ruth pretty much did something similar in her work. yes, i do think it takes those extraordinary women who broke those initial barriers, had a fortitude about them, a resilience, a persistence that was absolutely necessary to be able to do what they did. now, as you know, justice kagan and i had not married. we don't have children. we've had successful careers. and i don't think you have to be unmarried and have children to have successful careers. but i do
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think it helped back then that she represented everything that people expected and more. >> justice ginsburg, what qualities did you see and experience with justice o'connor that helped craft her for the position, as evan thomas says in his book, first? and you were second. and you were third. it has got to be carry special burdens and a sense of obligation to the people that are out there watching and seeing you as an example, as a role model. what qualities did she bring to that role? >> sandra was responsible more than any probably any justice in history for the collegiality of the supreme court. that was very important to her. when she revived the tradition of having lunch together and urged her colleagues to attend, she was also a good listener and she had patience and i never saw her snap back in anger. sandra was a person who woefr came her way in life, and some things that were not not at all fortunate, she copied with. like her breast cancer. i don't
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know how many women were inspired to carry on to have courage to do what she did. and then when john o'connor became ill, how she dealt with that. just whatever life brought her way, she just did it. that was her attitude. >> part of her background was being raised, in part, on a big several hundred a couple hundred thousand acre cattle ranch in arizona. part of the growing up was no
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electricity, no running water. she went to school on the west coast in stanford. the two of you are from decidedly different environment, new york city, brooklyn, so forth. and were educated on the east. does that make any difference or would it have made any difference? >> because it makes a difference, everyone brings his or her life experience to bear. but i think sandra's attitude since her childhood was, she can do it. and when she went out for it the roadups, she rode with the cowboys and one of them said she wasn't the rough and rugged type but she worked with us well in the canyons. she held her own, and that's what she did at every stage of her career. she held her own. >> both of you broke many barriers and in many respects each of you were
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firsts in many parts of your career, including on the supreme court in many different ways. justice sotomayor, describe that. do you feel special obligations to women or to the legal profession or the judiciary because you are breaking every day these barriers? >> i don't think i feel a special obligation to a particular group of people. i do feel as a justice, whether i'm a woman or not, an obligation to uphold the values of the court. and i think that that's what sandra felt. a deep commitment to the institution. and that goes along with ruth's description of her emphasis on the collegiality of the court. i tell a story that the justices were at a meeting. i
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don't remember if it was lunch or conference. we got distracted in conversation about a book that described many a time in the supreme court history when the justices were openly hostile to each other. and someone asked, what changed that? and some of my colleagues were suggesting the names of one or more chief judges. and all of a sudden a quiet voice in the room said, when women came on the court. and justice ginsburg was right about that. do i remember, ruth, the first time i met sandra at the court, the first morning after my induction that i was there, the court that emphasis on the institution but the sense of its importance in our
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society. >> i was going to follow up on that about the collegiality because it can be very tense, i suppose. i don't know. none of us really know except for justice kavanaugh, but at the the atmosphere must from time to time be tense especially at the end of the term when some the very
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controversial decisions are rendered and there are some sometimes very strong opinions and strong dissents. is that collegiality carry through even when there is a lot of tension in the decisions and sometimes in the language of the decisions? justice ginsburg? >> sure. this is an episode in which you played a major role. it was not the end of the term. but i suppose the most tense moment i've experienced in my 26 years on the court was the decision in bush v. gore. it was a marathon. the court granted review on a saturday, briefs followed on sunday, oral argument on monday, decisions out on tuesday. when it was over, i sent my clerks to watch
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what the newscasters were saying about it to justice kennedy's chambers, because he wrote the principle opinion for the court. justice scalia called me that evening to say, what are you doing? still in your chambers? you should go home and take a hot bath. >> this was the night of the decision, the 12th? >> yes. >> well, it was tense, that case. i'm not asking anything that happened in, you know, that we shouldn't be talking about, but we do know there was a lot of difficult feelings about whether the court should have taken the case or how the court was going to decide the case. justice o'connor has famously characterized as not jabbing
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back. not responding to a harsh criticism and a separate opinion or concurring opinion is that part of what you're talking about? >> she responded to ideas to but never to individuals. you would never see in an o'connor opinion, as you've seen in some opinions of the court, one justice saying about another justice's opinion, this opinion is not to be taken seriously. in fact, that was said of justice o'connor's opinion. she never snapped back to speak in the same stride yentident voice. she was never
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critical of a colleague. you would never see in her opinions, this opinion is profoundly misguided. and in that, i tried to follow her lead. >> is it hard, justice sotomayor, to resist? because i read these opinions. and some of them, >> one day, >> some of them are pretty pointed. >> one day justice scalia looked at me and said, i really love you, sonia, you're a bull dog like i am. we're both new york city street fighters. he was right.. i have been helps in restraining myself with the intervention of colleagues, which is one of the things that you asked about how do we maintain that
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collegiality. other colleagues will step in, have conversations with you and suggest that some things have crossed the line. others i have received, and i won't mention what it was about, an apology for a colleague in something that was said in heat argument argument. and that i know was likely prompted by someone else say, hmm, what did you do? or did you really mean that? and so it's to remain collegial, to understand your obligation to work with each other, assuming each other's good faith. it gets challenged when you disagree, but that's the time when you need to come to your senses and the group needs to continue insisting upon the nature of our family. >> so, i
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was going to ask about the oral argument. sometimes the oral arguments the justices are asking the advocate questions but they're really talking to one another. is that true? >> you know that feeling you're being talked through and not to. >> and i've never understood, ruth, why lawyers don't let us do that more often or don't like it. >> well, chief justice roberts has talked about this a little bit, the context of the oral argument. and i've heard either him or someone say, we don't talk to one another too much about the cases before oral argument. this is the first time correct me if i'm wrong,
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this is the first time we've talked to one another and we're doing it through the medium of the poor guy or woman standing six feet away. is that true? >> the first time we've considered a case together would have been at the petition for review stage. i mean, they the discussion is fleeting, but at least we would have been together and noticing this case that has been granted review. then there's not much discussion before the argument. frankly, there isn't time because as the term goes on, you're gearing up for the sitting, you're writing opinions for the sitting just passed. you may not have finished the reply brief in the case that's being argued the next day until the night before. so, that's why there isn't much in the way of
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discussion before the oral argument. but we're constantly trying to persuade each other. every time i'm writing a dissent for four people, i'm hoping i will pick up one more vote. and mostly that hope is disappointed, but i remember vividly one term when my senior colleague assigned a dissent to me. just for himself and me. so, the court divided 7-2. in the fullness of time, the judgment came out 6-3, but the two had swelled to six. and seven had shrunk to three. so, a famous >> it can happen. >> yeah, it ain't over till it's over. >> i think that was yogi berra that
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said that, wasn't it? >> i didn't know ruth was familiar with him, but she always pleasantly surprises me. >> justice o'connor was often the one to ask the first question. >> yes. >> when she was on the court. and it was always a very tough question and really required the advocate to be prepared for something in the record, something about and you do that, too. you ask often the first question, as you do, justice sotomayor. you're breaking the ice or trying to find a probe a weakness? i know justice o'connor was, you know, getting it started. >> yes. i
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always waited until she asked the first question. >> pardon? >> i always waited for her to ask. that was kind of the signal that we could we could stop the soliloquy and engage in colloquy. >> the most moment for me was the first argument after justice scalia's death. i think we were all a bit shell-shocked. and i remember sitting there and the poor advocate standing up there and talking and no one was interrupting him. unheard of when the justice was alive. probably unheard of now. that may be a time in which i felt i had to break the ice because it was a painfulfully long time. you could see it in the poor advocate. he was sort of what is happening here? my problem is that i was a district court judge and when you're a district court judge, it's your fifdom. you don't have to wait for anybody. it's hard to adjust to waiting for eight other colleagues to have a say. and so that's my problem. i'm
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still trying to bring it under control. but i do think that when any of us asks questions, it's because the issue's important to us. >> of course. now, justice o'connor was one time, i understand, in a cameo appearance in henry v. >> yes, queen of france in the treaty scene. >> you said, happily a voice may do some good. and what is what does that mean in the context of a justice on the supreme court? is there a woman's voice? what does it mean? what difference does it make? is it sexist to say that or stereotypical to say that? >> well, sandra would probably quote, as she did many times, a
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minnesota supreme court justice, gene cloyne, who said at the end of the day, a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same judgment. and i think that's true. but sandra would have followed it up by saying, we each bring our life experience to the table table. growing up female is wantnot the same as growing up male. and you could see the difference in an opinion that justice o'connor wrote. it came out at the end of her very first term on the court. it was hogan against mississippi university for women. this was about a man who wanted to be a nurse. the best nursing school
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in his area was the mississippi university for women. hogan challenged the exclusion, as it did equal protection and one of the then-justice, justice powell, looked on the reservation of the nursing school to women as kind of a affirmative action for women. so, it was okay. but sandra, if you read between the lines what she's saying is, if you want to improve the status of women in the nursing profession, the best way to do it is to get men to want to do the job because the pay inevitably will go up. that was an insight she had. she recognized reserving that school was not a favor to women. >> so, that women struck
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down that exclusionary policy, as i recall. >> yes. >> and then i understand, i remember this pretty well, that you cited her language in that decision in your decision in united states versus virginia. >> yes. in which you also played a major role. >> that one i'm very proud of, but the vote, i can't recall what the vote was. >> there was one person who agreed with you. justice scalia, that was all. >> but it was only an eight-justice court. >> yes. >> i understand that justice stephens who's in the majority, assigned that to justice o'connor and she said that should go to ruth. >> yes. >>
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and so can you tell us about that? what happened and why and what did you do with that? >> why did justice stephens offer the dissent i mean, the opinion for the court? to justice o'connor? because seniority is a major factor in our workplace. so, if you were the junior justice you tend not to get the most exciting cases. and i was pretty junior then. but sandra recognized this was something i cared a whole lot about. and so she told justice stephens that i should write the i should write the opinion. >> does that happen very often?
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>> it says so much about the generosity of her spirit. it hardly ever happens. so, what can you add, justice sotomayor, about a woman's voice and the fact that there >> you're going back to my confirmation hearing. >> this was a first in 1981. now we're 38 years later, something like that. there are three women on the court. justice ginsburg has said she'll be happy when there's nine. >> i said the question is, when will there be enough. so, the answer is, there will be enough when there are nine. nobody asks any questions about all of the years when all nine were men. >> well, i think people feel that you have a point. i can tell from the reaction. justice sotomayor, have you any other thoughts
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about that? >> i use as an example in some of my speeches something that happened in a virginia case involving the spotford case, involving the young woman who was strip searched in her school because of an allegation she was seen taking an aspirin. it was a no drug case. i wasn't on the court, so i am repeating something that was just public knowledge. apparently some of my male colleagues were asking questions to suggest that this strip search was equivalent to students undressing in the gym. for those who are women, i think most of us know that puberty is a time in which there's a heightened sensitivity to the privacy of one's body. and the idea that an opinion could have been written by one of our brothers, that might have suggested that
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this search was something less than of an affront to the dignity of a young girl. would have been an appalling writing. i do think, and my colleague, just ginsburg was heard to say after the argument that she thought that her male colleagues didn't understand what it was like to be a young girl. >> i said it at the argument. i was stumped the way the questions were going. i said, a 13-year-old girl is not the same as a 13-year-old boy. in the sense of the invasion of her privacy. this girl was
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accused of having drugs. the drugs turned out to be one advil and the other, something comparable. but she was taken to the girls'bathroom, strip searched. she was then taken to the principal's office and she sat in a chair outside the principal's office until her mother came to call for her. her mother was outraged and sued the school district. for what had been done to her daughter. but in the middle of that argument, the tenor of the questions changed. they were no longer joking about it. >> i read that colloquy. you made that point quite clear during the argument. >> yeah. >> so,
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the point being in my raising that example is that clearly we come to judging with our life experiences. and that includes every bit of it. and i remind people that wise old men and wise old women disagree and come to different conclusions on the court in many, many decisions. so, it's not the wisdom of gender. it is simply the wisdom of life and coming and bringing as many perspectives as we can to the process of judging. >> a diversity of background, a diversity of education, a diversity, >> of legal experience. that's why sandra gave ruth the vmi case. she had spent her life on the issues of equality for women and it was a fitting tribute to what ruth had done. >> that's sort of why
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i asked the question about justice o'connor growing up on a vast ranch in arizona. >> i couldn't do half the things she did. >> pardon? >> i couldn't do half the things she wroed horserode horses. she fly fished. i go across the country to hear judges telling me how she came to visit and they'd be out in the middle of this ice cold river fly fishing. i believe she hunted. i know ruth has flown out of airplanes and gone in back of boats. i don't do any of that stuff. these are indestructible >> she also went around a golf course faster than anyone. >> a heck of a tennis player, too, i gather. and she came from the west and went to stanford. justice kennedy came from the west. now you're all pretty much from the eastern part of the united
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states. all of you went to yale or harvard law school. and most of you went to ivy league undergraduate. princeton was a big part of it. so, there's not much diversity in that respect on the court now. is that anything that you think has an impact or >> some high courts, canada's high court has proportional geographical representation. so, a person number of justices come from the west coast provinces provinces. we don't do that. in fact, there was one state that it was vastly overrepresented, and that was arizona, because there was chief justice rehnquist and justice o'connor. population of arizona is not >> until justice scalia passed away, there were four of you from the five boroughs of new york city. >> so, we were
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diverse. the only thing we were missing was staten island. >> i'm sure the president, if he had an opportunity, whoever the president was, would have been looking for someone 50 years old from harvard and staten island. >> there's quite a few of them, by the way. >> should that matter? there was a time earlier in our history when there were certain geographic areas were presumed it was a southern seat or something like that. should that matter? >> diversity of experience includes the way you grow up. by the way, you left out one werner. justice breyer grew up on the west coast of san francisco. >> and then he wound up at harvard. >> is that a
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special taint? >> well, you left. >> yes, and i have no harvard law school degree. >> i'm going to ask a question justice o'connor was a trailblazer. people knew who she was. this is maybe the first time in a long time and someone knew somebody the name of somebody and a face of somebody on the united states supreme court. and in that sense, she was a a role model, a trailblazer because people would look at her and see this is attainable and this makes a difference. you've each been very much out in public. you've written a best-selling book, justice sotomayor. this is you've got your own t shirt factory. so, to what degree relinquishing your privacy the court won't let cameras in the courtroom, and there are various reasons. we don't need
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to talk about that. but you're relinquishing your privacy to explain or make available to the american public your experiences and your feelings and who you are. that has to have a big impact on the american people and women in particular. you make that decision consciously. i'm going to go out there because i'm not just a justice. i'm a public figure and it's important for me to be out there and answer questions. you go to a lot of places and give interviews to law schools and bar associations. you speak in public a lot, justice sotomayor. what goes through your mind with respect to that? how much privacy are you willing to give up in order to maybe perform that function? >> my mail was just flooded with letters that went like this. last year or five years ago justice o'connor visited our law school, our bar association,
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our country. and he did go to all 50 states. she was a great ambassador of the united states to other places. so the letters i got, after justice o'connor was here, it was as recently as monday when i was in raleigh, north carolina. and a women's college called meredith. they were very proud sandra day o'connor had come there in 1991. i don't know how she managed all the invitations that she got. but she made a concerted effort to speak in every state of the union and to be available when the government wanted an ambassador who was not part of the
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political world. to help countries that were struggling to install rule of law, to give them encouragement. and assistance. so, the tag line of the letters that i got was, she was here, now it's your turn. >> so what i'm going to ask you, too, justice sotomayor. what goes through your mind when you're inundated, i'm sure, with invitations, both of you, to be here and here and here. and you have very hard jobs. this is very demanding work you do. but you take the time to go to bar associations and go to state law schools and travel. what goes through your mind? you feel that that's important for you to do what justice o'connor started, pretty much, and you both have been doing. >> the most important thing is the court's work. and i don't let outside engagements interfere with the time that i must reserve to read the opinions below the briefs, prepare for the oral arguments.
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so while the term is ongoing, i try to limit the amounts of my distant travel. but we do have visitors at the court all the time. we have school children to the graduate level coming. many of the groups i speak to, i speak to at one of the court's conference rooms. >> what i'm getting at is, why do it? why do you give that much more justice sotomayor, why do you give that time to the people that you go and visit to talk to? why? >> you do get a sense of privacy, and there virtually is no place in the united states that i can travel to people
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recognizing me. we were in portugal together, this past summer and i hired a tuk-tuk driver to take me around the city, and it took me to one of their famous bakeries, and as i walked and, there is a puerto rican family who saw me walk and and surrounded me. this port driver saw the entire bakery come over to take pictures of me, so he finally sat down and had a pastry want me to taste and says, who are you?, but that does happen. you do give up a sense of privacy when you go out to the public. when i first got to the court they were the three garbage collecting benz, who joins you
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see in a building, and have a huge one. there were three of them sitting there. i'm looking at them and opening them, and the mail delivery guy comes in and i say, three of these? and he says no, those three more downstairs. i had all the letters opened and i organized all the different groups who wanted me to speak, and i sat down and said to myself, what do i want to accomplish. what is a legacy. i made a decision that my legacy was to reach out to as many children as i could to inspire them to, first become civically involved, and secondly not to give up hope for themselves. just virtually
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everything i do is geared to that end. whether it was my memoir were in my preface i explained that i am writing my book for those people like me who come from difficult backgrounds in the hope that they will understand that they too can have a good life and a meaningful one. my most recent book that came out of the summer is geared to children with chronic alive conditions. the entire message of the book is that we are equal, in every meaningful way to everyone else. so, that makes it easier for me to choose among the invitations i get. obviously,
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not many kids are here, at least not young kids. because there are people, and you -- just as a car stopped being able to be actively involved in the organization she formed and care about so deeply. when they asked me to join the board, i joined it because her message is very much in keeping with my own. so i make conscious decisions about where i can have the greatest impact, and
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with the two goals in mind that i set forth, which is to give people hope and to inspire people to believe in our government, and our system of government, and to have respect for the court system, and i think if we start that process in young people, it can very much change the tenor of our country. just his o'connor believed very fervently that the partisanship in politics started when they stopped teaching civics. and she is right. in terms of things, we have to go back to talking about each other, and really
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understanding what specific participation means. >> that is a wonderful answer, a wonderful approach and another reason why we are so grateful that you are here. you are in a position, where because of who you are, people will listen, people will watch and learn from you. people will be inspired by. justice ginsburg, you have not at all shied away from being a notorious. every person has t-shirt or marks. you have not backed away from that at all, and joked about the fact that they want to have their picture taken about you. >> in 86 and a half years old and everyone want to take a picture with me. that would be
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amazing. it was started by a second year student was just pleased with the court decision, that was held unconstitutional. and chris not use for a motion, it doesn't get you anywhere. so she took the bench an accident, and started a block., two was a
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well-known rapper, the notorious be ig. and people asked me -- >> nobody knows about him anymore. >> we were both bread and brooklyn new york. >> certainly, after that. you're paths diverged? but there is value to the american people to hear you, say you, be aware of you. they learn about the court but they learn about
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and about themselves all the time because of this. >> if i can give people hope that will be satisfying. the number of -- most recently, i was sent a set of air fresheners people want something hopeful to believe what's important to them it's shared by many other people, but i think it's that more than anything. the desire to have
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some confidence in your vision. >> i think it's that, but it's also, she was a believer in, i can do, it and she would tell, people just do it. when she writes in her book about being sent out miles and miles during a roundup and she had a flat tire, and how do you explain to your father how she had showed ablaze, she said to start earlier next time, but with her, she was determined to overcome all kinds of obstacles. she was not offered a job like you, when you graduated from law school. the idea that you can accomplish things as an
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underdog, or someone who is facing this advantage, that is also the lesson that you are giving to. people that's the message listening to people. you can do it. >> the idea of just do it. it was my very first time, we had the first sitting and i was suspecting that a chief justice would assigned to me a unanimous decision in a one issue case. instead he decided to be the most dense statute ever passed. in any case, it was not unanimous. it was 63,
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justice o'connor was one of the three. a complaint to her. i said he wasn't supposed to do that to me, and he said ruth, you just blew it. just do it, and get your opinion to circulate before you make the next set of assignments, otherwise who will risk getting another unpleasant case. but that was her attitude about anything, just do it. >> about her, we have heard a lot about those the consensus builder and a trail blazer. i suppose that in some sense, one is the antithesis of the other. you are out there waiting a strong dissent, and chief justice rehnquist, when he was an associate justice was singular descent a lot. that
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must be so intention of being a census builder. can you think about that? >> i do, because i'm not the consensus builder. i think there is a tension but, however, i don't think that -- (inaudible), but i don't think that justice o'connor worried about being a trail blazer. i think she focused her life on, just do it. >> and, for her, what was right he would not accept that others would not understand. so, you read it and evan thomas says book. she really, by force of personality, basically forced people to either join her but
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she really worked on consensus and the sense of this is the right thing to do. not a consensus in bringing people together, sometimes doesn't accomplish what it can do and i wasn't along dissent but the descent made makes a huge difference and i didn't notice the time she didn't do that and that's what i'm asking is i'm going to get out there and have my dissent up. >> most of the time they on the courts opinion have the response of justices but if you
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think the court is that it e. pen earned they will speak which i did and in this case, there was a lower dissent which was up involved in item seven. the timeline was, it is now in congress court to correct the error and there was a wonderful correlation and huge majorities on both sides who led the better pay act and the
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legislation when he took -- but i have a model for that in the late seventies and we had come to the conclusion on the basis of pregnancy and not on the basis of sex. it sparked a coalition that very quickly amended title seven simply on the basis of pregnancy. >> that the pregnancy disability act? >> yes. that followed the pregnancy act but the notion that it couldn't be sex
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discrimination because i was provided and non pregnant people when many women all men (laughs) and then there are these pregnant people so it couldn't be gender based. (laughs) >> the sense of it making a difference is that sort of you? >> i think the galvanized groups to do what the participation means in the lobby for before which has happened in both cases in the discrimination act and that act as well. sometimes, it happens
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in other ways in a descent from a denial in the alabama case about juror jury overrides and the legislative fix with the groups galvanized and they can draw a spotlight on issues that we think about. if they are, as outraged as we are it can move change. >> justice stevens was confirmed unanimously in the senate and justice scalia was and there are only nine folks. >> three. (laughs)
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>> that's breyer but it is now 31 in your situation. are we have a point where there's an attack in terms of the information process and what kind of damage does that do? >> you think way back in 1980. when i got my first good job and was appointed to the court of appeals. the chair of the judiciary committee and the ranking minority member -- those to work together when or well qualified judges to the federal court. here is the same
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thing in 1993 when i was nominated and then senator joe biden was part of the committee as the ranking minority member on that judiciary committee as a previous supporter. the way they hope i will see again in my lifetime was for people that really care about the economy to say, enough of this dissension we need to do the work. >> we are about done. i don't know whether the justices can do anything or we've spoken about it. is there anything
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that as citizens we can do to get people to be more decent and civil? >> it's not just that it speaking out publicly about it and if politicians here the outcry they often mostly do but we have to educate the public to see judges as partisan people in terms of our institution and when i look at the news i really don't hear a
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lot of intelligent conversation explaining those issues as a non partisan issues as a democracy so, i think we do. i visit law schools quite frequently and we have jeans and professors for not building more more attention on the importance of lawyers in educating the public and graduating from law school that is set for the process. think about how many pick people on this committee i graduated from law school and this is how many of them react that to me is
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incredible. that train lawyers did not believe that is important to judge. >> i think the american people feel very strongly that it's awful to behold to the judiciary and a senior court. our time is up and that has been fantastic. (applause).
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