When Chief Justice John Roberts promised the Senate Judiciary Committee he would serve as the U.S. Supreme Court’s umpire — dutifully calling balls and strikes — he most certainly did not anticipate Justice Sonia Sotomayor swinging for the fences from the end of the bench.
Sotomayor gave the Robert A. Stein Lecture at the University of Minnesota Law School Monday night, where she let slip the inner monologue that runs during oral argument.
“There are things he’d say on the bench, where if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it,” she told the assembly, in reference to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who reveled in the thrust and parry of the Court’s proceedings. (RELATED: Bob Dylan’s Words, Enshrined In The Nation’s Case Law)
The remarks, however, did not have a hostile bent. She acknowledged the significant ideological chasm between them, but said losing Scalia was the equivalent of losing a member of one’s family. She has elsewhere said she suspects Scalia raised arguments “just to annoy” her, but that they enjoyed a warm interpersonal relationship.
She further explained it was important not to impute ill will to one’s adversaries. “If we’ve lost anything, it’s remembering that differences don’t stand, necessarily, on ill will,” she said. “If you keep that in mind, you can resolve almost any issue, because you can find that common ground to interact with each other.”
“I think I suffer fools easily,” she said earlier in the lecture, in reference to lawyers who arrived unprepared in her courtroom during her tenure as a district court judge.
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