‘Become A Champion Of Change’: Justice Sotomayor Tells Law Students They Can Fight ‘Wrong’ SCOTUS Opinions As Lawyers

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor told a group of New York City law students Wednesday not to be discouraged by recent Supreme Court opinions but to work toward changing them as lawyers, Law 360 reported.

The remarks were made at Fordham Law School’s annual Robert L. Levine Distinguished Lecture Series, which Sotomayor joined virtually from the Supreme Court shortly after hearing oral arguments in Samia v. United States, according to Law 360. “Wrong things can be changed, and that’s what lawyers do, is work on changing those wrong things,” Sotomayor told students.

“And so what I say to a young lawyer is: people make laws. Justices are people, and people can get laws wrong,” she said. “… So if you’re disillusioned, then identify what’s disillusioning you, and become a champion of change. Go out there and fight the battle. That’s how I get up every morning.”

Sotomayor pointed to previous mistakes made by justices, such as maintaining segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, but did not identify by name any recent “wrong” decisions of the court, according to Law 360. (RELATED: ‘Free Speech Crisis’: Stanford Law School Spent Years Building Out Its Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Bureaucracy)

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor poses during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., April 23, 2021. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor poses during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., April 23, 2021. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Responding to a student’s question about coming challenges to the legal profession, Sotomayor discussed public trust and “dealing with uncertainties in the law.”

“Perhaps it’s dealing with the uncertainties in the law, whether that springs from decisions of my court that are altering approaches to the law in ways that people don’t understand, [or] whether it’s the law taking an even more prominent place in resolving political disputes,” Sotomayor said, according to Law 360.

“We as a profession have done so much good for the world, and we continue to, but I think our selling job hasn’t been that great lately,” she said. “I personally believe that that will be our biggest challenge in the next five years — to maintain the public’s trust of us as a profession, and one worthy of people looking up to us.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also recently spoke to a group of law students, meeting with members of Columbia University’s Federalist Society in February to talk about “the human side of being a justice,” according to a March 14 Instagram post by Columbia Law school. The post sparked outrage from students, alumni and even an official academic office at the university, the Center for Engaged Pedagogy, according to the Daily Wire.

“WTF is wrong with you,” the Center for Engaged Pedagogy commented.

“Did the discussion touch upon judicial temperament, or the outrageousness of having a man credibly accused of sexual assault making decisions about women’s bodily autonomy?” commented Colombia alumnus Nima Binara, current Google lawyer and former Department of Justice national security lawyer, the Daily Wire reported.

Earlier this month, Stanford law students shouted down and heckled Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan during his scheduled talk.

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