Justice Sonia Sotomayor visits Northrop Auditorium

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke about Scalia’s death and the current political climate

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks with University professor Robert A. Stein at Northrop Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The lecture was part of an annual series professor Stein and his wife established to bring lawyers and judges to the University.

Chelsea Gortmaker

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks with University professor Robert A. Stein at Northrop Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The lecture was part of an annual series professor Stein and his wife established to bring lawyers and judges to the University.

Eliana Schreiber

Pacing through the aisles of Northrop Auditorium Monday evening, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shared her experience as a younger justice on the Court, her thoughts on Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death and her position on the upcoming presidential election.

“What comes through, I think, is her humanity, her care for people,” said Robert Stein, a University law professor who interviewed Sotomayor at Monday’s event. Stein said he organizes talks every year for the campus community to meet the justices and better understand their positions.

“She’s been on the court [for a] relatively shorter time — just in Supreme Court time — but she’s already made quite a mark for herself,” Stein said.

Sotomayor spoke about her experience as the first Hispanic woman appointed to the court.

“What has taken my breath away is to see the emotion that other Latinas have in seeing me in this position,” she said at the talk. “For many of them, I see in them a source of pride that gives them hope.”

Sotomayor discussed the importance of respecting others’ opinions and how to find common ground when disagreeing with other people.

While Sotomayor said she often fought with Justice Scalia, the whole court felt as if it lost a member of the family.

“It has been a deeply, deeply felt loss,” she said during the interview, adding that despite their fights, she and Scalia were good friends.

Sotomayor also discussed the 2016 presidential race. She stressed the importance of being informed on the issues and encouraged audience members to vote.

“Who we vote for is who you think we should vote for, not who I think we should vote for,” Sotomayor said during the discussion. “And you shouldn’t vote until you’re informed about the issues and until you’ve thought clearly and carefully about the consequences of your vote.”

Terri Wipperfurth, a political science alumna, said she was moved by how humble Sotomayor was, especially when she walked through the aisles of the auditorium.

“[She] was unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she said. “For someone of her status to be touching hands like that was just … a very humble thing.”

Wipperfurth said Sotomayor delivers a message of hopefulness and inspiration to people of all kinds.

“I want you to know that I’m a human being,” Sotomayor said during the discussion.

Devin Driscoll, a second-year University law student, said he was impressed by Sotomayor, a longtime role model of his.

Driscoll said she brought up important themes of what it means to be a justice and a citizen of the country.

“She gave some great, practical advice for what it’s like to be an attorney,” he said. “But then also to hear about her mindset and what the idea of justice is … for a lawyer … reminded me why I came to law school.”

Sotomayor, who has worked directly with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken, ended her talk by acknowledging the elected officials in Minnesota.

“You should be very proud of your elected leaders in this state,” she said at the end of the talk.