SCOTUS changed oral arguments partly because female judges were interrupted, says Sotomayor

She also said that it is a dynamic that exists not only in the court but also in the society.

“Most of the time women say things and are not heard in the same way as men who may say the same thing,” she said.

Sotomayor said she had noticed the pattern “without question” before changing the system on the bench and would sometimes respond in a way that she knew might not have been ideal. “I interrupted back,” she said.

The comments came during a talk in front of the New York University School of Law for a conference dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Sotomayor has recognized the country’s changing demographics, the need for more professional diversity on the court, and what it feels like to be the first Latina on the court.

NS Court’s new system on oral arguments Now the word has become most evident that the judges are back in open court. Until now, even in controversial cases, judges have not cut each other off – something that has often happened in the past. The traditional format has been changed to allow each justice – once a lawyer’s time has elapsed – to ask specific questions in order of seniority.

The new system appears to particularly appease Justice Clarence Thomas. For years he rarely asked questions from the bench, and in this period he became an active participant and opened each set of arguments with a question.

Sotomayor was also asked about diversity in a different context. Kenji Yoshino, a professor at the New York University School of Law, said that many conservative members of the court adhere to fundamentalism—the judicial principle that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was understood at inception. He asked whether this approach would become “increasingly untenable” as the demographic makeup of the country is becoming vastly different from the makeup of the framers.

Sotomayor agreed that many of his colleagues adhere to the philosophy and added, “Whether and how there will be an inconsistency between the decisions we make and what the general population accepts as the law – a fascinating question.” “

The Supreme Court is facing a blockbuster term, considering whether the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade, and expand the scope of the Second Amendment.

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She noted that “there is going to be a terrible conversation by more and more society about the role of courts in our society” and noted that there has already been some discussion among critics of the conservative majority as to whether the structure of the court should be changed. .

Sotomayor also echoed President Joe Biden’s criticisms about the current court’s lack of professional diversity. She noted that when Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed, “we lost our only civil rights lawyer” and there is currently no other justice that has been “in the trenches” on civil rights, or immigration, or environmental law.

“I worry that the officials selecting the judges are not paying enough attention to even that kind of diversity,” Sotomayor said. She said she works to hire law clerks from diverse backgrounds and carefully selects her audience to spread her message.

She was also asked if she felt the added pressure as she was the first Latina on the court.

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“If you’re a person of color, you have to work harder than everyone else to be successful,” Sotomayor said. “It’s the nature of the competitive nature of our society – where you have to prove yourself every day.”

“And I don’t know too many people of color who don’t get into this venture without feeling the pressure of knowing they have to work harder,” she said.


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