The left-of-center justices on the Supreme Court may have some radical (even dangerous) philosophies of jurisprudence, but they also appear to understand the respect their colleagues on the Right side of the aisle deserve. Take Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for example, who recently told CNN that she welcomed the newly-affirmed Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court “family.”
Speaking with David Axelrod, Sotomayor was asked how she regards a colleague like Brett Kavanaugh after having witnessed such an acrimonious confirmation battle, during which he was accused without any corroboration of attempted rape and even of being a serial rapist. The Obama-appointed justice gave an encouraging answer.
“It was Justice (Clarence) Thomas who tells me that when he first came to the Court, another justice approached him and said, ‘I judge you by what you do here. Welcome.’ And I repeated that story to Justice Kavanaugh when I first greeted him here,” she said.
Sotomayor went on to describe the Supreme Court as a family, where men and women work closely with one another for several years, sometimes decades. She noted how this requires people to create close relationships.
“When you’re charged with working together for most of the remainder of your life, you have to create a relationship,” she said. “The nine of us are now a family and we’re a family with each of us [having] our own burdens and our own obligations to others, but this is our work family, and it’s just as important as our personal family.”
Both Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas nearly had their nominations to the Supreme Court torpedoed by last-minute allegations of sexual misconduct that had neither witnesses nor a shred of corroborative evidence to back up their accusers’ claims.
When asked if Kavanaugh’s presence on the Supreme Court will unfairly tilt the judiciary to the conservative wing, Sotomayor asserted that the judiciary is above politics.
“Conservative, liberal, those are political terms,” she said. “Do I suspect that I might be dissenting a bit more? Possibly, but I still have two relatively new colleagues, one very new colleague, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. And we’ve agreed in quite a few cases, we’ve disagreed in a bunch, But you know, let’s see.”
Sotomayor also felt that modern political discourse emphasized too much on human difference and not enough on common “human values.”
“We all have families we love, we all care about others, we care about our country, and we care when people are injured,” she told Axelrod. “And unfortunately, the current conversation often forgets that. It forgets our commonalities and focuses on superficial differences whether those are language or how people look or the same God they pray to but in different ways.”
“Those differences truly are not important,” she added. “What is important is those human values we share and those human feelings that we share. But I worry that we forget about that too often.”
Justice Sotomayor’s rhetoric on Kavanaugh echoes that of Justice Ginsburg, who developed a friendship with Justice Scalia during his tenure on the bench and even spoke fondly of him upon his death, while leftists trashed his legacy.
“From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies,” said Ginsburg at the time. “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the ‘applesauce’ and ‘argle bargle’—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.”