tv Interview with Justice Sonia Sotomayor Turning Pages CSPAN November 17, 2018 10:48pm-11:13pm EST
horrible. and the german said well that's the reason i've come to see you because in fact we cheated. we drew the hole first of all in a block of steal and then machined around it, which was perfectly easy thing to do. so i've come here to say what you did was the most perfect thing and we simple simply cheated can, he said which is why we lost the war. [laughter] >> stacy: so on that note i'd like to ask for a round of applause and thanks. [applause] simon winchester and stacy shiff. thank you so much and as you know autographing will be take place on this floor past the elevator on the north side of the floor and if you have a ticket for the next program, you may remain in the room. if you don't we ask that you
leave as soon as possible. thank you very much. >> we're talking about the beloved world of sonia sotomayor. the young adults book her autobiography of my beloved world, her best-selling autobiography of a couple of years ago. zoey goes to school in hampton virginia, she has a question.go how did books open the world to you? something you write about? snoen well wrote about that zoey. it's called "turning pages: my life story." you'll see me walking up the supreme court steps and in my left hand is a little key. and i tell people when they look at the key remember it's the key to my success.
and the book explains that that key was books opening the world to me. you see, we live in our neighborhoods. we know our family, we know our friends, we know our teachers. and our classmates and maybe some of their families. lbut the world is a very, very big place. and in many ways we're very small persons. one person among billions and billions of people. and the only way that i could access that very big world and even the bigger universe, was through books. books let me see possibilities i .never knew existed. they let me realize how big the world was, and how many opportunities thereiz were in te world for me. and so, they were and still are the key to my success in life. and i think the key of success
for anyone, because through books, we can find out not just who we are, but to imagine the place that we've been inhabiting in this world pet and in the buloved world of sonia sotomayor, you talk about your neighborhood library as a 5th and sixth grader. >> sonia: my fourth grade in school was very sad as you know because my dad died. he had been ill for a very long time, and when he passed away there was a great deal of sadness in my home. i was fortunate enough to find the local library, at that time, and it's no longer true now, the library was on the same floor as macy's, a department store. and my mom and i were there at macy's one afternoon, and i saw
a direction sign that said public bibrary pointing to the back of the floor and i looked at mom and said can we go look at that? and she took me in through the doors and that was a new world for me. i had never seen so many books in one place in my entire life. my mom had a small couple of shelves in our apartment. but this was shell shelf after shelf, and row after row of books. i just wanted around with my eyed wide open trying to imagine what it was like to be able to read all those books. well i tried but i didn't succeed. there were too many of them but the point really was though that i found the safe haven. it became my place where i could escape from the sadness in my home and find a way to imagine myself somewhere else.
and that's still books are my escape. when i'm sad, i pick up a book, and i start reading. and i immediately either laugh if it's a funny book. if it's a serious book it makes me think about something else. and if it's a book about information, i start painting pictures in my head of the pictures that the words are creating for me. so books can be all those things. they can be a place to escape, they can be a place of adventure, they can be a laboratory for you to experiment in your head with different things. there are so many things that books can do for you. so for me, that finding of that library was an eye-opener for me pet this
me. >> host: what is one thing you are most proud of being the first latino on the supreme court? snoen no one's asked me that question. what am i most proud of. i think what i'm most proud of in my life was reflected the day i was sworn into the supreme court in my public ceremony. i was in the courts -- courtroom which is quite beautiful, and i was sitting facing the court until they call you up to be sworn in, you sit in the seats sat in by john marshals, who is one of the most influential justices of the supreme court. one of the earlier justices. as i was sitting there i was looking at my mom and looking at my entire family, and most of my lifelong friends. they had come from around the
world, literally. my entire family had come. from puerto rico, and in that moment i realized that no matter how successful you are, it's really only meaningful if your family and friends come with you.ou if they share your life with you, then that is success. there are a lot of people who work very, very hard and are very, very successful, but they break away from the people whoy really started with them. and i've never done that. success you measure by how much people walk along with you. not by who you leave behind. and i hope i've left very few people, if any behind.
peter: i know your mother is with you in miami? >> sonia: she is. she's inside staying cool. >> who supported and inspired your interest in the law? r> sonia: interestingly enough there were no lawyers or judges in my family so i didn't have someone close to me, who knew enough about law to be able to guide my interests. i didn't actually find my mentors in law until i actually got into law school. and there, i found people who obviously knew much more about the law, and how to be successful in it. than anyone else in my life. and so, i was -- there was one professor administrator at yale law school, and jose was a
leader in the puerto rican legal community, and generally he was general counsel to yale and he taught at the law school. he befriended me and he's been my mentor ever since. the most telling moment for us was when i joined the second circuit court of appeals. he was a judge there and one day he says that the strangest moment for him was when his students became his colleagues on the court. >> you're appointed to that by georgia hw bush, correct? >> sonia: i was. >> and from the supreme court by president obama. >> sonia: and to the court of appeals by president clinton. it is unusual for the justice to serve on the other two cowrtsdz. there's only three justices in the united states who have served on all three levels, and
it seems to happen about every hundred years. so the last one was almost a hundred years ago. >> all right oliver corpus, university high school, irvine, california. >> we are literally hundreds of questions from these kids and we are pleased with the response, oliver would like to know do you and the other justices ever hang out, outside of the courtroom? >> sonia: we hang out all the time. i spend more time with those eight other justices than i have with any other group of judges in my life. and that's because we hear every case together. we're in the courtroom listening toto every case that we decide s a group of nine. and after we have oral arguments which is about five-six times a month. we have lunch together. and every friday we have a
conference and we have lunch onh those conferences. we also have lots and lots of dinners together on the court, because there's always that airplane -- that airplane above us -- >> host: it's okay. >> sonia: sorry kids, there's a plane overhead so i can't hear myself, sorry. but we also have a lot of dinners together because there is a lot of formal events. if you're asking do we ever socialize outside the courthouse, not as a group generally, although every once in a while there was an event where we'll all go. so as some of them may have seen on tv when a justice has a celebration at the white house, most of us will go because it's a new colleague joining the court. but occasionally we go to the r,theater together, we go listen to music together.
we have dinner at each other's houses. we're actually very friendly to other. even though we disagree a lot. we are the one institution in government that kids should know we still like each other, even though we don't have the same opinion. because we know that you can agree, and you don't have to be disagreeable. you can differ in what you think as long as you're willing to have an open mind and talk about those differences. you can still be friends. >> host: justice sotomayor, one of the rumors in washington is that you know how to host a really fun dinner party, is there truth to that. >> sonia: there is a lot of truth to that. first, i love food, and second i love people. for me having dinner with friends, and hosting and making people relax and enjoy themselves and laugh a lot is
very important. >> host: this is somethingng you discuss in the book the beloved book "the beloved world of sonia" and this is a question from palt o at o california. given that november is diabetes awareness month can you discuss how diabetes has played a role in your career development and how those living with disabilities can also manage to reach the highest levels? >> sonia: one of the things that's>> been most important iny life with diabetes, is really realizing how precious life is. when you have a disability or a chronic condition, you appreciate every minute that you have in life. you know that you have to take advantage of every moment that you're permitted to enjoy
yourself and have in this world. and so for me, my diabetes taught me discipline. it taught me how to take care of myself. how to stay healthy. it taught me that every day i had to wring out of life as much as i could. andld so, i studied very hard. i did a lot of after-school activities. on friday and saturday nights i partied a lot. and saturday and sunday duringnd the day i worked. because my family was poor, and we needed to earn a little bit of extra money. i still to this day do the same thing. i enjoy every second of my life because my condition has taught me that it's valuable. and, for those of us who face chronic challenges, we should
have pride. we should have pride in our courage, in our ability to take care of ourselves, and in our ouability to accept help when we need it. because there's a lot of people who don't realize how important that is. and so, for me, it was a blessing. it's taught me something that a lot of other people waste a lot of time not appreciating. >> host: justice sotomayor weou noticed this at the national book festival when you were doing your presentation. you got off the stage and were down in the audience, and i presume you'll do that later here too. >> sonia: if you didn't have me strapped down in this chair with a microphone, i'd be out there. you know it happens naturally at my very first book event in washington, d.c.
it was a huge hall with, i don't remember it was people. and i was up on this stage, and i could hear people laughing, or clapping. but i really couldn't see them. and at one point as i was walking back and forth on the stage i thought to myself, i want to see them. i want to say hello to them. they spent all this time waiting online to come visit me, i should visit them. i got off the stage, and there was a lot of ooh's and ah's and it was so much more personal when i was walking around the theater. so much more a connection between me and the audience that i felt why don't people do this more? and i really don't understand why they don't. i have continued to do it and it's been wonderful.
do you know how many hugs i get when i walk around? and every one of those hutionz, particularly now because this is a children's book, and there's a lot of kids in the audience, i have told people i've collected thousands and thousands of hugs. it's the best part of this book tower. >> host: sasha thorten, hampton virginia, does growing up in the bron x have any part of your identity and decision-making. >> sonia: i think where anyone grows up becomes a part of them. it's the sight and smell and memory of people and places and things. everything builds an accord of memory in your mind. when i was growing up my grandmother lived in an apartment building, on a floor that faced a running elevated train. and that train like the
airplanes that are going over above used to pass by every ten or fifteen minutes. the first day i was in that apartment i thought to myself, how can she sleep? how can you ignore the loud noise of that train? and over time, i learned that it just becomes background noise. and i used to play in her apartment and i would look out the window at the passing trains, and i would wave at people who were in the train and some of them would wave back. and occasionally i'd stick my tongue out at them and run to the back of the room. or make faces at them. but those are moments that have been marked in my mind. they are mind-moments. sure your identity gets warmed by the places you live in. mine was a hard neighborhood.
it was very crime-ridden.y our family was very, very poor. they worked very, very hard. all of those things become a part of sonia. but sonia's also a lot of other things. i went to a fairly elite college and an elite law school. i have been a prosecutor, i have worked for a company that represented some very, very rich clients, including maybe kids know fuare you awarey the race car, and i represented ferrarri. so all of that, is a little piece of me. >> host: one of the characters in your book a real person, worth reading the back to learn about abolita, your last moments with her. you write about in your book. >> sonia: i do.
abolita, my grandmother was probably the most of us important person in my life next to my mother. she was everything to me.o and i descrieb in the book how we did not look anything alike. she has a long face, i have a round face. i have very curly hair, she had very long, straight hair. not completely straight, a little wave but it was straight and mine was a curly mop. we didn't look alike but we shared a kindred spirit. everything about us was the same. we loved people. we loved parties together. she's the one who taught me the beauty of words because she had poems memorized and she would talk about them. and yes, i was there the last day of her life. she had been sick with cancer, i was away in college, these are the days before cell phones. and every call you made home was
very expensive. but i knew she was sick and i awould call home at least oncea week to try to talk to her. when i came home that semester from college, i went to the hospital and spent every day i could with her. and this was a christmas eve of the year she died, and all the rest of my family accept for one cousin went home. aand he and i went out and bout her a small christmas tree for her bedside. and we put the christmas tree there, and i sat there, he actually walked out of the room, and she started to talk to me. and she died in my arms. it's a moment that i will never forget. but there was a young girl this morning, i was meeting with a group of kids, from an organize called amigos for kids in little
havana, and a young girl asked me did it hurt a lot when your grandmother died. i told her it hurt like anything. and i cried, and i cried, and i cried. but once i stopped crying, i remembered. and to this day i think of my abonita almost every single day and i know that she's still alive in here. and in all of my memories. she's never died there. and so, in those ways, no one ever dies forever. because we stay alive in the memory of people who love us. >> host: mohammad con, ocean new jersey,. >> sonia: that's a little closer too my home. >> host: he would like to know if you've considered for running for president or office. >> sonia: no. [laughter] i love my job.
first i absolutely love being a lawyer. second, i absolutely love and adore being a justice. i get to think about and be a voice in the decision of the most important legal questions in the united states and sometimes in the world. for me, it's the perfect job for me. everybody has their own perfect job and we don't all like the same thing, but i've never been interested in the elected office but i always have been interested in law and the good it can do for people. so for me, this is the right job for me. >> host: justice sote sotomayore are out of time and they want us to go away. we literally got hundreds of questions for you in a 3-day span. we want to thank the teachersto and students for sending these
in. any time we're back in dc we'd a love to talk to you again. >> sonia: i'd be delighted. "the beloved world of sonia," the young reader's decision, and she has an even younger edition of the book, "turning pages," want to show you that cover now, justice sotomayor, you will see her later m during our coveragef the miami book fair. thank you. [applause] >> mr. beschloss thank you for your time. do you get anybody complaining about being at the miami book fairen? >> host: in your talk in texas you were talking about the fact that we have invested a lot of power in the president of the united states and that can affect judges.