tv Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor CSPAN June 8, 2018 8:40pm-9:41pm EDT
announcer: sewing it -- the supreme court justice sonia sotomayor talked about working with other justices in her new book, and in a children's book. this one-hour event was hosted by the american constitution society. [applause] >> let's move the furniture? >> yes. >> i don't like being this far away from you. [laughter]
>> how are you doing? >> i'm doing ok. >> it's going to be around for a while. >> what happened? >> i'm in the middle of the night and went to get a bottle of water from my kitchen and it , was dark and i tripped over a piece of furniture. [laughter] >> broke it in four spots, my shoulder. had to have it replaced and so now i'm partly bionic woman. [applause] i need identification to go through airports. >> i think you are good. >> i can travel abroad occasionally. >> are you taking care of yourself? >> yes. >> you sound dubious. are we worried about her? we are. >> i am feeling exceedingly
well. my doctor and therapists are delighted. the only negative concert -- consequence of this is not being able to sleep well. pain, aswn causes me it does with most people who have shoulder operations. i'm a little bit tired most of the time, but you get used to it. >> i have two children. you do get used to it. omayor: [laughter] >> a couple of ground rules before we start. the justice cannot talk about anything that is currently pending before the court or anything that the court has previously decided. which is fine. the court has not done anything interesting this week that we about, which talk is fine. [laughter] justice sotomayor: next question.
two weeks to go. >> it's 2018. you have been on the court for nine years. you have been in the federal judiciary for 25 years, six as a judge, 11 as a district court judge and now , nine as a justice of the supreme court, how does it feel? justice sotomayor: like i'm old. >> you look the same. justice sotomayor: that's a good thing. my nephews and nieces told my brother the other day they didn't understand why he was the younger brother since i looked younger than him. i gave them such big hugs and kisses. it is strange to think so much time has passed and that i have done so much in judge and jury. each experience has been unique unto itself and each is decidedly different. yes, many judges will tell you judging is judging, but it's a different kind of judging on
each level. and i'm so grateful that i had the opportunity as a supreme court justice to know what the other two experiences are like and to understand both the power of each position and its limitations. and i think that that makes me, i hope it makes me more respectful of what the judges below me are experiencing and why they see things differently than we do. some of my opinions have reflected that and reflected my understanding of what the judges were looking at and the whys of why they were asking. so it's been a marvelous experience for me. i often have said in the past that i wish i had been a judge before i was a litigator. >> [laughter]
host: hard to do that. [laughter] justice sotomayor: i thought how much better if i really understood what judges were looking at. and i'm grateful now that i had those experiences as a justice. host: that's how i feel about being a bob professor. i wish i could go back to law school. i would kill law school. justice sotomayor: i think you would do ok. [laughter] host: you welcomed new colleagues. you came to the court after justice ginsburg was alone from 2005 and 2009 and was at n.y.u. and described that are period of time between when justice o'connor was hired and it was her and eight very well-fed men. [laughter]
and then you have justice kagan and three women on the court. the dynamic changed a little bit. a law professor at northwestern and her student just released a study a few years ago and tracked the number of interruptions in oral arguments at the court and found that women justices are disproportionately interrupted at higher rates than their male colleagues by their male colleagues, have you noticed that? [laughter] [applause] justice sotomayor: that was truly spontaneous. a woman in the room who has failed to notice that? [cheers and applause]
justice sotomayor: justice ginsburg once noticed and i hope she notice my response to it and -- has noticed my response at an earlier time. spoken about this at conferences. no one reacts to it and then we go around the room giving explanations and a male colleague says exactly the same thing and all of a sudden there is a perking up, this is the most brilliant thing anybody has ever said. that happens routinely, not just with her, but with all of us. when i started noticing that, i have been conscious of saying when it comes to my turn, ruth just said that, or noting it so people don't forget that it was her observation to begin with. but that existence is interactionsr life , generally. i give credit to the chief
justice. i don't know what that study would show since the publication of that article, but i have noticed him being more of a referee during argument. he has been very conscious as people are being cut off, of stepping in, much more than he ever had been before and said -- of stepping in and saying answer that question, but go back to justice ginsburg or justice sotomayor's question. those professors who believe their writings have no meaning, occasionally, they do. [applause] justice sotomayor: but i think that was reflective of the fact that talking about the difference in gender treatment is important, because it's not always conscious and people don't always do it understanding doing it.
if you don't sensitize them to it, they aren't going to be responsive in a different way. i was grateful for the article and it changed the dynamics on the court. i actually had male justices apologize for interrupting, which never happened before. so it's not only him, but others who have been more cautious as a result. host: do you feel the weight of being the only woman of color on the court? justice sotomayor: yes. host: how so. justice sotomayor: there is a need for women role models and the best is ruth bader ginsburg and sandra day o'connor as well. they were my inspiration. but for women of color, people in top positions are not as frequent.
and so as one of my friends reminded to join my confirmation process and said this is not about you, dummy -- i was complaining about the process -- and she said, this is about my daughter, who needs to see somebody like herself be in a position of power. [applause] justice sotomayor: it is a really big burden. and when i thought about how to fulfill it, what i realized it -- is what i could give them, the only thing, is being myself, to continue trying to be as genuine as i could with the world, not just with them, but with the world. and so to the extent that i speak frankly in my decisions and directly, it's because i
want people to understand what i'm saying, not in legal terms, but in legal terms that touch the heart. i want people to understand the consequences of law and how it affects them. and the things that we need to do to make the laws better. so for me, yes, it's a great responsibility. host: it's not just the consequences of law but consequences of languages. one of your first opinions, you used the term undocumented immigrant as opposed to illegal immigrant or illegal alien and you said that was a choice that you made because you wanted to disrupt the idea being undocumented was an extreme form of criminality. you wanted to think about the
range of criminality. people break laws all the time -- justice sotomayor: i'll give you examples of that. how many people take things from their office home that they are giving to their kids to paint with or do whatever they need for a school project. most people do that. reflectively, without thinking. you are stealing from your employer, yet we don't think of it as culpable conduct that doesn't result in the death penalty, ok? or even perhaps incarceration. so there are varying degrees why people commit crimes. that is no less true for undocumented aliens. certainly there are a number of people who have committed other not related to their status. that is a different undocumented alien, an undocumented alien who
is here without valid papers but still a contributing member of our society. responses have to be as nuanced give, punishment judges and so do people's perceptions of those individuals. people think you have committed a crime that you are somehow a horrible, bad person. the reality is that good people do bad things and how many of you mothers in the room or fathers look at your kids when they say do you still love me? they say, i still love you, but i don't like what you did. that is a perfect truth. and there may be moments that you don't like them. [laughter] my point still remains as a society, unless we as judges are careful about our use of words and not taking on words that -- with this large emotional, negative impact about others, then we won't teach the greater
society to be more nuanced in their reaction to very complex problems. host: that seems to be a problem more than ever, this need for nuance and precision as opposed to blunt language. do you think that that decision is more resonant today than it was in 2009? justice sotomayor: given the nature of the conversation, yes. i'm grateful for it. one of my colleagues wrote a decision a number of years after mine, pointing out rightly that the statute that these people are charged with violating alients, butllegal i think that misses the point -- i legal aliens, but i think that misses the point. it doesn't mean that the term
has more meaning than what the statute gives it or what the dictionary might give it. that sensitivity has to be more broad than that. host: that was really heavy and it took a dark turn, very dark turn. >> can i go talk to them, now? host: i know you want to most a little bit. sotomayor: a little bit tough right now. on this side. i'm going to go around. host: she is going into the crowd. [cheers and applause] host: i'm just going to stay here. justice sotomayor: i'm going to walk around. hello. [indiscernible]
host: can i come? justice sotomayor: you can come. host: i didn't know if i had to stay. sotomayor: whichever way you want to do it. [applause] host: i am just the height man. -- hype man. justice sotomayor: hello. what's your next question? i'm going to let you go to work. host: this is like oprah. have you seen the new documentary? justice sotomayor: oh my gosh, i loved it. my whole chambers went last friday night and had the best time.
i'm shamelessly promoting it, ok? it is funny, informative and just plain entertaining. it's a beautifully done piece. it's very short, but nobody should miss it. host: what was your favorite part? justice sotomayor: you mean when they showed my picture and elena kagan's? [laughter] i am just jesting about that. i think it was seeing justice ginsburg laugh so much. you know, she kind of appears stern and because she is so slight, she really doesn't project her smile as broadly as i might project mind. even as a colleague, there are
some fairly serious things, and is not a jokester by personality , but she has some great the day ones. that president obama came to greet us at justice kagan's swearing-in and asked her how she felt about her new sisters and her response was, i love them. but she answered, i will be happy when you give me five others. [laughter] justice sotomayor: she can do it, but it is not a constant in her personality. in the film, you saw her taking true pleasure in moments of her life. >> i really felt like i needed to step up my own game. we all do. we all do.
do you have a workout like that? justice sotomayor: not like that. [laughter] yeah, i do work out. i have a trainer too. >> her trainer was pushing a tire or something. it was crazy stuff. justice sotomayor: crazy stuff. she's religious about it. she does more pushups than i ever could. >> she's doing a one-armed pushup. justice sotomayor: she's quite him amazing. she's really amazing. but all of the female justices have workouts. it's interesting that each of us are more careful about that than some of our colleagues, male colleagues. [laughter] >> kerry stewart from the california appellate division over here. >> i love your book. justice sotomayor: thank you. thank you for reading it. >> there's someone over here who had the book. there's the book. has everyone read the book?
[laughter] [applause] we'll come back to you with the book. don't worry. justice sotomayor: i just can't do it standing up now with this arm. i'm trying. i'm trying. >> so there are a lot of students here who are currently in law school and they're thinking about clerking. how many of you are thinking about clerking? hands raised. lots of them. lots of them. you once told me that your biggest regret was not clerking. justice sotomayor: it still is. >> why didn't you clerk? justice sotomayor: i was stupid. [applause] [laughter] >> don't think that's true. justice sotomayor: and not thoughtful. jose, who was my mentor, he's currently a judge on the second circuit court of appeals. but he was general counsel and v.p. at yale at the time and he was my mentor. and he was trying his darnedest to tell me to go clerk. and he was trying to explain all the advantages and all i saw
about clerking was that they spent all of their time in the library researching writing. that's the only part of it that i understood. and after seven very challenging academic years of my life, i did not want to do that. i wanted to get out there and be a lawyer. and i was going to the d.a.'s office, bob promised me i'd get into the courtroom within my first six months. i was trying a case within my first month. >> that's exciting. justice sotomayor: it was. and i had a wonderful experience there. but it wasn't until i became a judge that i understood that clerking was a lot more than that. >> yes. justice sotomayor: it is not only the relationship with your colleagues, because even when you're working on a case in a firm or an institution with other lawyers, they're all sort of doing different things or different parts of it. but in clerking, you're constantly talking to your co-clerks and learning from them. and you're learning what moves
judges. and you get to see in a year more papers, more briefs, more approaches on how to practice law than you will in 10, 15, 20 years of practice. because every matter before you is different. and so you're learning not just the processes of the court, but how to practice in a different way. and eventually i think everyone who clerks comes away understanding what is important in convincing judges of your argument. and that's hard to do if you've never clerked for a judge. it's a little bit embarrassing for me to say that i regret anything professionally. i'm a sitting justice. [applause] >> it seems like you're living your best life. justice sotomayor: yes, i am. justice sotomayor: but i made an uninformed decision.
you know, i was -- i came from a very poor background. i not a whole lot of debt compared to what you guys have today. but debt. and i thought i had to get out there and work. and i was wrong. by clerking i would have advanced my career by five 10 years. and i tell every minority and every person who has -- who's in law school, the best choice you can make for yourself. and take it as a year that will promote your career and advance you five to 10 years. so it's worth the sacrifice. and don't forget that most law furms give you -- firms give you a bonus at the end of the year. [laughter] >> when i clerked for you, it was the most challenging year of my life. will my life. i came to work on weekends for a long time. but it was about being part of a family.
i became really good friends with my co-clerks. we still see each other. and i think those are the benefits of clerking that people don't really appreciate. that it is part of being part of a bigger family, not just with your judge but with your co-clerks as well. here's my former student, isha, who is your clerk as well. justice sotomayor: i had to to call her over to give her a hug. >> and the supreme court justice, not only was she my former boss, she married me and my husband. she officiated our wedding. him and him him him [laughter] justice sotomayor: if you haven't figured out, picking law clerks. >> she does a good job of picking law clerks. and her law clerks love her. truly, if you are a student thinking about clerking, it is an amazing experience. it's part of a pipeline to a career, whether it's in practice or being a judge. this is something you don't want to shut yourself off from. so please, please consider it
and please work with -- we're interested in getting more students and certainly first generation students and students in the pipeline as well. we have to get to the other side of the room. justice sotomayor: i will. one quick note, i'll move faster now. one quick note to that. you no longer have to clerk right out of law school. >> that's true. justice sotomayor: and many, many judges, especially, i know in fact the southern district of new york, love people who come from other places. and so if you haven't done what you needed to do in law school to be a clerk do it in practice. figure out those people who are connected to judges you might want to work with. >> right here is my research assistant, kaitlin. justice sotomayor: hello, him kaitlin. justice sotomayor: she's a shameless promoter. >> she's going there and then clerking for victor boldin. she's doing exactly that. justice sotomayor: very smart.
>> it's so nice to meet you. justice sotomayor: thank you. you picked a good mentor. >> i did. justice sotomayor: hello. how are you? him >> so we have to ask more questions. i'm having a hard time. this is really testing my powers of chewing gum and walking at the same time. this is a lot. justice sotomayor: you can go back. [laughter] >> i know i'm utterly superfluous here. you have new colleagues. what's that like? what is it like when a new justice sotomayor: it does change the dynamic. everybody has their own personality, their own sense of humor. and it takes a while. the it takes a while to get used to people's humor. i remember the first day justice toi remember the first day justice gorsuch was in conference and he said something and i realized he was joking.
>> it's hard to tell. justice sotomayor: no. he intended it to be. him but i could see in my colleagues' faces, it wasn't a humor that we were accustomed to. [laughter] and -- but we got used to it and he got used to us. and so things fall less flat now. no, no, no. i don't -- how are you? how you have been? >> you doing ok? justice sotomayor: he's been trying to get me healthy for years. he's trying to get me to meditate. and i have the books -- it's going to happen. it's going to happen. you know something, that's probably true. >> mindfulness session tomorrow. justice sotomayor: maybe i should show up for that. no, no, no, i'm only joking about that. the reality is that each voice is different. how you respond to it.
how best to convince another human being. you have to learn, you have to learn what's important to each person. you have to figure out how to approach your problem with them. in a way that's more persuasive to them because you're sensitive to their viewpoints and that takes time. i, to my law clerks, will say, ok, what do we think justice gorsuch would do? because i know him the least. as time goes on, i don't need to ask that question as much. >> how do you get to know them? do you hang out? do you go to happy hour? [applause] justice sotomayor: we don't have a happy hour. you know, we have lunch after every oral argument. and we have lunch after every cert review and case review conference on friday.
so i actually see them socially at lunch time more than i have any other set of judges in my 25-year history. because when you're a district court judge, you might have a judge's lunch room. but not everybody shows up regularly. and him him him regularly. when you're on the circuit court, you're having two other judges with you and maybe you have lunch with them occasionally. but certainly not regularly. and so this is more forced socialization than i ever thought i wanted. >> forced socialization? justice sotomayor: i'm halfway jesting about that. but it is true. it was sandra day o'connor who really insisted on all of the justices actively participanting in going to lunch with each other. it is very, very hard, and it tests our fortitude, to at the end of a very emotional announcement of a case, where we
have been divided, there is a protocol which is, we force ourselves to go to lunch. because it forces us to remember that we might differ in what our answer is to a societal issue, to a constitutional issue but we are still people who are working together. >> and breaking bread. justice sotomayor: and breaking bread and understanding that differences are not something that should permanently alienate you. but something that you should work on understanding each other better with and figuring out what you can do in the future. >> where are you going? justice sotomayor: i'm going over here. [applause] >> ok, ok. justice sotomayor: this is another law clerk. >> i know. i know brian. justice sotomayor: i missed him. matt, i'll get back to you before i go up. in >> so when you're with your colleagues, you're forming these relationships with them, it's taking time.
do you feel like you're settled in with them? you know them really well? are you getting to know them? are they friends like your friends on the second circuit? justice sotomayor: that's a lot of questions. [applause] >> it's a lot of walking. justice sotomayor: compound questions, counselor. [laughter] let me try to unpackage it. we talk a lot about our families and about kids and about spouses and for those who have relatives still living, parents, etc. we talk about those things. so we know about each other in very personal ways. we know each other's hardships. you know, when justice ginsburg's husband, marty, was dying, that was my first year on the bench. justice breyer sends her a package of food every night because marty was the cook in the family. and he was afraid she wasn't
going to eat. that's a very family-like gesture. which repeats itself. if one of us is sick, like i was with my shoulder, everybody called me. what are you doing here? hi. where's carry? >> texas. she says sorry. justice sotomayor: tell her i missed her. >> family people. justice sotomayor: spouse of a clerk. >> you like the spouses more. we know. [laughter] justice sotomayor: yes. [laughter] >> i know. justice sotomayor: i love her husband. >> we know. you've made that very clear. [laughter] justice sotomayor: anyway. there are very close gestures. when i broke my arm, every one of my colleagues was sending a note, calling, following up to make sure i was ok. and this is very traditional.
do you really know what's in a person's heart? that's a harder one to answer. i think it's easier when you're on the courts below. in because you're not working on all the same cases and you can vent to a colleague who's not on a panel about a different panel and what they did and how you think they were right. or wrong. it's harder when you're on our court. because you sort of know what the lineup is, who's in the majority, who's dissenting. you know who agrees, who in doesn't. complaining to them is useless because they have their own complaints. and so it's a sort of different type of relationship in that regard. but we do socialize outside of the courthouse. not too often. because we're all busy in our own lives. but we do do things together. justices have been in my home. i've been in theirs.
we've celebrated -- >> did you play pictionary? justice sotomayor: no, we don't do that. >> no game night? justice sotomayor: no game night. none of that. but there were movie nights. sandra day o'connor used to take them to western movies. >> western movies? justice sotomayor: that was her love. >> like "unforgiven"? justice sotomayor: yeah, things like that. [laughter] but she liked the really old stuff. >> like "true grit." >> exactly. justice sotomayor: that was her favorite. but it is a family. which means that you're upset with them sometimes. >> sometimes. justice sotomayor: a lot. you can disagree a lot. >> sometimes. justice sotomayor: and you can forgive a lot. and you end up being forced to. thanks. tell her i love her. ok, matt.
you have to come out this way. wait a minute. there he is. anyway. in those ways it is much closer than people imagine. >> we made it back. justice sotomayor: we made it back. [applause] i'll let you go back to script now. >> i'm sweating. [laughter] justice sotomayor: i made it through the room. >> you did. i was just bobbing along in your wake like a barnacle. my kids love you. right? i have two kids. they love her. i got called out once because my daughter went to school and her teacher was reading from a book.
can we have the first book slide? so this is the book her teacher was reading from. sonia sotomayor, a judge grows in the bronx. and it was kindergarten. so my daughter raises her hand and says, i know her. [laughter] in and the teacher says, sure. [laughter] and then they keep reading the story. my daughter says, she brought me a unicorn. and the teacher says, right. [laughter] and then i get a call that night about my daughter's imagination. and how i've -- we have to rein this in and direct it to more productive avenues. i'm like, well, this is entirely true. she does know sonia sotomayor and she did give her a unicorn. [laughter] [applause] justice sotomayor: you should disclose to the audience that your daughter is smarter than
you, me and her dad put together. >> i mean -- i'm just glad she's taking care of us at some point in my life. justice sotomayor: so am i. >> she may be plotting our destruction but she's ultimately going to take care of us. justice sotomayor: the story has duplicated it self recently with a 6-year-old child of a friend. they were doing the same thing in class. and she raised her hand and said, i know sonia. and they didn't believe her. her mother has begged me to go in and meet the class and show him him him him them i know lucy. it's taught me a lesson. we better remember to take pictures now. >> you have to be seen to be believed. justice sotomayor: that may be true, actually. >> pictures or it didn't happen. [laughter] so, this is a good segue. there's a cottage industry of sonia sotomayor children's books. i know justice ginsburg has the whole notorious r.b.g. thing. they're like an agency. i don't want to cross them.
i don't. and him and him andi don't. but you have an equally vociferous group of children's book authors who are totally standing for you. so, there's that one slide of sonia sotomayor. but then there's this one. who is sonia sotomayor? my daughter loves this book. she was really into that book. so this is one of them. then there's another one. "i am sonia sotomayor." it's a graphic novel. you're a cartoon character. justice sotomayor: i haven't seen that one yet. melissa: he loves it. this is how my son got literate. reading these books. [laughter] so you go on all kinds of capers. it's like a comic book. justice sotomayor: i like that.
melissa: he likes this one a lot. then there's another one. it seems very respectable. this one's in the school library. justice sotomayor: that one i have not even either. melissa: there are so many of them. this is just a fraction of the ones i could find. there are a ton of them. so the next slide -- justice sotomayor: would you like to hear my mother's story? someone told her, you should know how many hits on the internet there are for your daughter. my mother, who didn't ever touch a computer, decided to go to the local library. and asked the librarian what a hit was on the internet. [laughter] melissa: it could go in many directions. justice sotomayor: the librarian put my name in and up popped countless hits. and my mother called me that night and said, i stayed for about two hours and i fell asleep after reading them. and i said, that's what i would do too. melissa: she's so proud of you, though. justice sotomayor: she is.
but these things do sort of shake me a little bit. melissa: this one shakes me. go back to this last one. where you're surfing on a gavel. [laughter] justice sotomayor: do you think that's surfing or salsa dancing? melissa: it looks unsafe. it looks like safety is not a priority here. justice sotomayor: as you can tell from my brace. melissa: this is not for the children. what's the next one? this is my favorite. all fighting crime together in the female force. [laughter] [applause] it's amazing. it's amazing. justice sotomayor: my first dream was being a detective like nancy drew. melissa: condaleeza looks like she's solving a crime right there. i mean -- i want to read this book. are you interested? justice sotomayor: i am. himjustice sotomayor: i am.
melissa: then there's this next one. ah. so this is your book. justice sotomayor: this will be my book. melissa: tell me about this book. justice sotomayor: it is a picture book. for children between the ages of 3 and 8. it's probably sophisticated enough so most parents will have to read it with chair children, rather than a child reading it themselves. it's the story of my life, but through what i consider the greatest influence on my life, which was reading. i learned about the world through reading. given where i grew up, which many people know was an economically challenged neighborhood, i spoke frequently about the fact that my mom would have readers digest in our home and i would read about all these new books coming out and i would go to the local library and try to check out the book and my library never had them. i didn't realize that a local
library in sort of the poor neighborhood of the bronx wasn't going to have recent books. but reading is what exposed me to the world. and the possibilities of the world. i talk to kids all the time and tell them that that's the value of learning. it's not getting good grades. it's not satisfying your parents. it's not being competitive about whether you get an a, b or c. it's about what learning teaches you exists that you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. it opens up the possibilities. [applause] so this book is about that. i start by saying that i start the first vignette with talking about my grandmother reciting poetry at our family parties.
another vignette is about my diagnosis of diabetes, my condition. and the fact that reading comic books and supergirl gave me the strength to figure out how to give myself insulin shots. so, the constitution's in it. the bible's in it. ""lord of the flies"" which was really important in shaping my view about the importance of laws, and the importance of how those values have to be nurtured in children, that we're not born with them. that is something we have to teach. that came to me through ""lord of the flies"" but there are other readings and books and episodes that describe moments in my life through how reading opened the world to me. and so the end of the book is --
so this was the part of my life, where are you going? melissa: like a choose your own adventure. justice sotomayor: exactly. melissa: i like that. so we saw a number of my beloved worlds out there in the audience. we didn't steal them. we're going to give them back. sign them. justice sotomayor: i need a pen. melissa: do you have a pen? so, you've actually created one for junior readers. middle school audience. so this is the new "my beloved world" that's coming out that you can purchase for the young people in your lives. but it's basically sort of an abridged version. justice sotomayor: more pictures. different pictures. some the same. but more new ones. and simplified for a middle-aged group. middle school group, not middle-aged group. [laughter] a freudian slip.
melissa: i know i feel exposed. these are two new books and you're on the court and you're recovering from shoulder surgery, and -- what am i doing with my life? why do you have all this time? how are you doing this? justice sotomayor: one of the partners in one of my law firms one day said, there's plenty of hours in a day between 12:00 at night and 8:00 in the morning. no, he was halfway jesting, by the way. but that is a joke. a lot of it is that these are acts of love. and the middle school book was started because my cousin, miriam, who is described in the adult book, and maybe one of my favorite people in the whole world, is a middle school bilingual education teacher and she begged me for a middle school book.
and so that was borne from that. randomhouse, who is the main -- main publisher, came to me and said, once i was doing the middle school book, shouldn't i have a young person's reader of some sort? and so that's where that idea came from. and they also wanted me to do a second junior children's book which is going to come out a year from now. yeah. melissa: you're turning into beverly cleary. justice sotomayor: but that one, when they approached me about a second children's book, i told them, on one condition. that you accept the book that's totally my idea. and they did. and when i say totally, picture book about my life is, you know, pretty standard idea. but i wanted a picture book about kids with special -- i don't want to use the word -- with life challenges. chronic conditions.
juvenile diabetes, attention deficit, autism, all of the common, deafness, blindness, all of the common challenges. some visible and some not so visible that kid grow up in the world experiencing. and i wanted a children's book that would explain some of those challenges, some of the frustrations, some of the difficulties in dealing with such conditions. but also some of the strength that it gives you. and so that book is set in a garden and it's about a bunch of us kids working on creating the beauty of a garden. each with a different sense, in with a different function, with a different need. you know, some plants require more water. some, more sun. others do great in the shade. some don't.
and through that metaphor, trying to get kid to understand that we build this world together. and that they should participate in understanding what each other is dealing with. so, they agreed to it. and that's actually the book i've been working on with the help of friends. because we've had a lot of friends, some of them in this room, who have been looking over the manuscript and making comments and we've had a lot of experts working with us. [applause] who is the young woman who gave me the hard copy? where is she? tell me your name. spell it.
ok. thank you. [laughter] melissa: so your family in puerto rico. puerto rico's been on my mind lately because we're going into hurricane season again. last hurricane season was absolutely devastating for puerto rico. both with hurricane irma and hurricane maria. and i think the death toll in puerto rico is staggering. just shy of 5,000 people lost. how is your family doing in puerto rico? and you have been back to the island? justice sotomayor: i have not been. i was scheduled to go back in may. literally the week i was having my operation. so i had to cancel it. i had wanted to go back earlier, literally the week i was having but with all of the challenges on the island, the marshals were not happy having me come visit. it was difficult to drive through the island. it's still not easy. but it was more difficult before.
it's gotten, every day, every month gets a little bit better. but just this week a dear friend of mine sent me some packages of coffee and it reminded me that we had a very robust coffee industry that's now been destroyed for at least seven years, if not 10 to 15. because all of the coffee plants were uprooted and it takes seven it takes seven years for them to take hold. the entire industry was wiped out. timeof my relatives over got water and electricity, but only last month did the last of them get it. the island has blackouts continuously, supplies are so limited, the challenges are great. the recovery is not something that will go away in one day,
one month, one year, it will take decades for the island to rebuild. needless to say, for many it is challenging. for most it is sad. a place that they have lived in and have grown comfortable in is now presenting a daily life survival challenge foremost people. it is heartbreaking. thankfully, most of my family has been well. they have suffered financially and continue to do so. they have relatives in the states, so we have been able to help. some people don't have the resources. is troubling so many is the brain train going on in puerto rico. from thehe graduates university of puerto rico are
not staying on the island, they are coming to the states. you can't blame them. their future on the island is questionable. whether they will be able to practice whatever they have learned, or make a living to support themselves or help their families. i don't make judgments about the people, i just worry about it. the population of puerto rico was exceeding 4 million five or 10 years ago. it is now down to 3 million. i am predicting it will go down even further as a result of these storms. >> what can we do to help? >> we still need contributions. island -- you guys can fund raise if you choose. habitat for humanity's has projects on the island.
they are helping to rebuild homes. there are sections of the island that are not accessible. people on the mountains, and the other side of the electric grid are still without powers in many areas. so many homes have been destroyed. any sort of resources that can be shared, both human and material, are still greatly needed and appreciated on the island. there is still work that can be done in the states. example, havefor opened to some of the graduates from puerto rico whose facilities were closed down during the storms. there are different ways you can participate. just on the injured act, there are so many different projects going on. >> and things acs can probably
do? problems,re a lot of like what happened after september 11 in new york. there are a lot of resources available to people if they know how to access them. ofre is a great deal difficulty in dealing with red with that muchy related to our government over here on the mainland. there are still some resources available to islanders, but they are not able to get to them. >> we are almost at the conclusion of our time. i wanted to say one last thing. we have been talking a lot about inclusive courthouses, courtships. recently, there was a proposal from some of your colleagues to modify the hiring process so it is not quite as accelerated as it has been in the past few years. the proposal was to require
question applicants -- courtship applicants to apply after their second year, and there would be a cooling-off period after interviews where no offers are extended, then offers can be extended after that open season. there can be no exploding offers. have you thought about that? is it a good idea? -- it has been reformed in the past and failed. because it is hard to imagine in the profession in which we are supposed to be teaching civil discourse, courtesy, respect, and human tolerance. the idea that judges couldn't follow a plan voluntarily undermines the lessons we are supposed to try to teach. it is hard for me to understand
how the old plans fell apart. this one has a chance which suggests success. i see some judges who are very actively working on it here. one am gettingor paid -- paying close attention to the court applicants i get from judges. i will raise not just an eyebrow, but react accordingly to judges who are not following the plan. judges who if i am not the last justice to hire cycle, i amship really close. the following september of maybe one of the justice who ours last. i don't think [applause] i have done badly.
[applause] -- i don't think i have done badly. [applause] there is more talent out there than we as judges could ever use. it seems to me to send the very message when we can't act civilly towards each other. for me, that plan and its success is very important to upholding our professional standards. don't think i have ever said this to you publicly, but i want to now. 2000, ipplied to you in just finished my first year. i was not the most exciting candidate, and you took a chance on me. when you took a chance on me, it
changed my career forever. i would not have had the career that i have had without your support and mentorship. i am so grateful that you took me under your wing. i am so proud to have been your clerk. i want for other students to have the opportunity to work for someone as committed to justice, as committed to making this country achieve the promise that it was built on. i want that for everyone because that is what you gave me and i am so grateful for it. [applause]
i am not crying, your crying. [applause] [laughter] >> thank you. >> you are truly a national treasure. we want nothing more than to see on the court for another few years. please take care of your shoulder. goodbye. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ladies and gentlemen, remain in your seats while the justice exits the room.
>> c-span's washington journal live every day with the news and policy issues that impact you. coming up saturday morning, george mason university senior research fellow and the lines for american manufacturing scott paul discussed trust -- trump administration policies. variety senior editor ted johnson will talk about the upcoming court decision on the at&t time warner merger. "washington journal," live at 7:00 eastern saturday morning. join the discussion. on wednesday, president trump signed the v.a. admission act into law. v.a.'s choicee program for another year. while the department wants to consolidate seven community care programs into one. this is 20 minutes.