Justice Sotomayor: Tears were unbidden

April 04, 2017 06:45 PM

TROY - It was another milestone in her already remarkable life. The little Latina girl from the Bronx, raised by a single mother, who grew up to become a United States Supreme Court Justice.

"Until I received the call from President Barack Obama, I did not believe he was going to pick me," Justice Sotomayor told an assembly of students and faculty at the Sage College in Troy Tuesday morning.

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When she got that call in 2009, Sotomayor says she instantly realized she reached a stage in her life far greater than anything she ever thought possible.

"You have to understand, I'm a tough Bronx kid, and I don't cry," she said, "But the tears came out unbidden and the emotion was so overwhelming."

There may not have been anyone else in the audience who could identify better with Sotomayor's life than Giselle Guzman.

"I am also a Latina from New York City and I come from a low income household," Guzman says. "She's real, she's human, and she walked around, greeted all of us, and it was just so inspiring."

While answering questions from the audience, Sotomayor strolled the aisles, shaking hands, giving out hugs, and allowing photographs, all under the watchful eye of secret service agents positioned throughout the auditorium.

Lena Hitchcock, of Selkirk, asked Sotomayor what people can learn about getting along with others of different political views and ideologies, from Supreme Court justices.

"She seemed like the type of person you could just sit down and have a conversation with even though the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land," Hitchcock says, "It's pretty intimidating."

Sotomayor's answer was "a shared obligation."

"We are there to decide the cases of the country, the most important issues," Sotomayor states, "but it comes from understanding that basically each of us shares the passion about the same thing: the work we're doing."

"We all believe in this country," she continued. "We believe in the constitution as the basis of our shared relationship. We believe in our system of government, with all its flaws, as being the best there is in the world."

"This has been the coolest thing that's happened to me so far (in my life)," Guzman says.


Dan Levy

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