EDITOR'S NOTE: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits down with CNN's Soledad O'Brien to talk about her new memoir, her views on being an affirmative action student and now a judge ruling on those cases, the differences between her and Justice Clarence Thomas, and her view that working mothers can't have it all. The interview will air in two parts on "Starting Point" on Monday, Jan 21st and Tuesday, Jan 22nd at 7aET only on CNN.
By "Starting Point" host Soledad O'Brien
Before my interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she ushered me into her expansive office. It's upstairs from the rest of the justices. You wouldn't know it, but Justice Sotomayor can be loud. She likes to party, she likes noise, laughter and music. The offices downstairs…they tend to be quieter.
As I walk in, I notice a plaque on her front door and take a picture of it. “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” it says. I ask her if I could tweet the photo. She obliges, saying it's a sign that really embodies her and that most reporters miss it.
When we sit down for the interview, the first thing we talk about is Sunday's swearing in of Vice President Biden for his second term. I asked her what she thinks of that historic opportunity, since she would be the first Hispanic judge to administer the oath. I also wondered if she felt added pressure, especially after Chief Justice John Roberts famously fumbled President Barack Obama's oath in 2009.
“When you read my book you know that I practice everything I do over and over again," Justice Sotomayor says. "So I have been saying the oath out loud for a couple of weeks now a couple of times a day but I won’t be relying on my memory either. I’ll have a card with me.”
What's clear is that Justice Sotomayor has a natural ease, which comes across in person and in her new memoir, "My Beloved World." The book recounts her life in the Bronx and her rise through her career, but it ends when she is nominated to her first judgeship on New York's Federal court and doesn't include much about her Supreme Court seat.
Her book also focuses a lot on her roots, her tight-knit Puerto Rican family and growing up in poverty in a public housing project in the Bronx, NY. She went on to college at Princeton and Yale, then worked as a lawyer until she was appointed to her first judgeship in 1991. Despite her rise, she never forgets where she came from.
An important theme she makes in the book is that she doesn't try to glamorize her great successes. Sotomayor makes a point of explaining the lessons she's learned through the challenges she's faced along the way. She recounts what it was like to attend Princeton in 1972, the 3rd year of classes for women at the school. At the time, there were virtually no Latinos at the school but she was still able to observe the plusses, challenges and ultimately the lessons learned from what was at times an isolating experience.
In her first year on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor says she was terrified. She points to her colleagues around her as the ones she relied on for mentoring. Though in reading her memoir and talking with her, it's clear that her drive to 'make it' is evident throughout her life. Even though she says she feels unprepared and not ready for her various experiences, she always manages to take a lay of the land and not only succeed but also outcompete everyone else.
She didn't shy away from talking openly about her diabetes and the importance of staying fit for her health. She felt she had an opportunity in the book to be an example for others.
Justice Sotomayor may be a new kind of Supreme Court Justice, one who knows her power as a role model and as someone who people can relate to. When talking with her in the interview, it's clear her friendliness and warmth makes it's easy to forget she holds a seat on the highest court in the country.
At the end of the interview, I introduced Justice Sotomayor to Erica Ramos, a recent college graduate from the Bronx. Sotomayor embraced Erica, who was trembling from joy, and autographed a book for her.
Sotomayor offered her some advice: You have so many great opportunities. Take them.
We get it, Sotomayer has a book and a publicist getting her on every network and articles in every mag. I think one or two weeks is enough.
Someone should report Amir Ali, he apparently is off his meds and is babbling incoherently. Cannot make head nor tails out of all the bizarre posts above....
CNN: Isn't it obvious that you need to DELETE the numerous posts by "Amir Ali"????
I'm pretty sure Amir Ali needs "Rosetta Stone English Version" before he becomes a propagandist for the Paki Taliban hurling insults at our government on CNN chat....
No your not Dreaming Sotomeyer. Obama does now have 4 more years to FINISH US OFF!
Cnn will rarely post anything but obama worship!!!
How nice for her that she's "dreaming" – the middle class is having an obama liberal/fascist/socialist nightmare!
Amir Ali needs a hobby. Aside from that, Justice Sotomayor has a Puerto Rican family living in The Bronx. Since when was The Bronx moved to Puerto Rico? Why do reporters insist on playing up someone's race or ethnicity or religion but omit the important facts such as the work it took to get to this point and qualifications? I couldn't care less that Sotomayor is Puerto Rican, Dutch, Japense, or Antarctican.
I am proud that I live in an era when it is possible for the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants to become a United States Supreme Court Justice. She serves as a role model for so many. For those who had to fight adversity to achieve success. She is female, Hispanic, one of the first to graduate Princeton Law school. She knows the enormity of the role she plays in history, at the Supreme Court, in law and for the people of Puerto Rico. Justice Sotomayor will be a significant force for good for the people of this country for many years to come. Bless her.
I don't know what "Amir Ali" is sounding off about but it's not Justice Sotomayor. Beyond a vague sense of hostility to India I can't understand him at all. If anyone can explain him please enlighten us. Or maybe CNN can explain how his "remarks" got put here.
Ms. O'Brien mentions a role model in the title, but who is it – Sotomayor for other minority women, or some unnamed hero(ine) for her?
Could someone lead Air Ali carefully away?
Yes, she has a natural ease about her...the same ease she displayed in lying at her confirmation hearings...something that comes very natural and easy to most extreme leftists...
Gag me with a spoon!
Why is my comment awaiting moderation?
Just another far left activist judge. The kind Obama will continue appointing in his second term. No regard for the constitution. Simply using her role to impose her extreme political views on others.
Amir – a fitting tribute an an unqualified Obama appointee.
I am commenting here because such a wonderful story is awe inspiring and there should be some comment here besides the spam by Amir Ali
Ah, someone else for Soledad to fawn over.
I'll go out on a limb here and guess that English is not your home language.
see the luck of this VP, who failed miserably in the presidential preliminaries , but went on to become two term VP, inspite of putting his foot in his mouth innumerable times, yes it is not a dream? Look at lady clinton who got millions of preliminary votes but got pushed under the bus?
I think Judge Sotomayor will be a great judge and use the law as it was meant to be. All we need is more Judges in High Heels – an even mix of female and male. We need a total of ten judges on the Supreme Court, with no political ideology in use.
may the obama administrations every move be a complete failure
Where is the interview? This article is not an interview. Who is CNN trying to fool? Or is this just another piece of page-filling junk?
I lost all respect for Sotomayor when she came out and told every one if it was for affirmative action she would not be where she is today because her test scores were lower then others for college.
What, what was that ? I think this SC judge is an asset and I applaud her position. God bless and good luck Justice Sotomayor....
It's a joke that someone so thoroughly unqualified will be serving a life term on the SCOTUS.
How wonderful that Justice Sotomayor took hold of the opportunities available and did so very much with them. Bravo for her!
Now if only Amir Ali would avail himself of far FEWER opportunities....
I had the privilege of hearing Ms. Sotomayor speak at my son's graduation from NYU-Polytechnic and she was a wonderful speaker who was able to hold the attention of the entire excited class and their guests in Yankee Stadium. She is an inspiration.
Amir, you need to up your dosage.
Sotomayor is a racist member of La Raza, no surprise she's worshipped here at communist news network.
"Sotomayor can be loud. She likes to party, she likes noise, laughter and music" That's our jibararita – Vaja! Sonia. With love.
Justice Sotomayor is an embarassment to the Hispanics. Her rulings stink!
were so proud of you.... blessings to obama
obama the only man who can save this nation
congrats to our fearless leader
i dont blame obama for our decline...i blame the american people...dar/k/er/ ,poorer.....less moral..... and with a non exsistent work ethic
I think it's important to point out that Justice Sotomayor has Juvenile Diabetes, known as Type One Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills off insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, thereby rendering a person Insulin dependent (requiring about 7 shots a day to survive). There is no cure for Type One Diabetes. This is different from Type Two Diabetes, which the majority (90 percent) of diabetics have. Type Two is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and most often obesity. It can be somewhat controlled by oral medication, or cured by improved diet and exercise.
We will never get past race issues if every time someone does something their race becomes part if the story.
I was hoping under CNN's new leadership, this trend might stop, but it seems to be getting even worse.
Starting Point airs weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN. Check in often to join the daily conversation.