Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor On Racism, Insecurity and Negotiation

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor On Racism, Insecurity and Negotiation

Wednesday, 9 September

"Through and through I'm a lawyer and a judge," says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "But my life experiences do permit me to see things that others may not."

Before the Justice became a lawyer and a judge, she was a young woman growing up in the Nuyorican community in the South Bronx—just a few years behind Death, Sex & Money guest host Sonia Manzano, who also grew up there. The two didn't meet until a few years ago, but their childhoods had some similarities: Money was tight, their parents' relationships were troubled, and both of their fathers struggled with alcoholism. But unlike Sonia Manzano's father, who lived well into his 80s, the Justice's father died when she was nine years old. "I’ve often wondered if the outcome of my life would have been the same if my father had remained alive," the Justice says. "I think the absence of that constant battle made a big difference in my self-perceptions."

Sonia asks the Justice about facing and overcoming insecurities throughout her life—including on her first day as a Supreme Court Justice. "Anyone presented with a new challenge has to always have that moment of insecurity, of not knowing whether they can do it," the Justice says. "I live with that. I've lived with it my entire life....The first day that I was on the bench was for the now quite famed case, Citizens United. And my knees were knocking even then. But what got me over that moment...was to become totally engaged in what was happening before me, and the knocking finally stopped without my realizing it." 

This episode is part of our 2016 Great Guest Takeover series, when several past guests took a turn in the host chair during Anna's maternity leave. Check out Sonia Manzano's 2015 interview with Anna on Death, Sex & Money here

To listen to our 2016 Other Americans call-in special, click here. And to add to and browse our Pandemic Tool Kit, click here

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