by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Speaking to students at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law on Monday, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor confessed that every conservative Court victory “traumatizes” her.
“I live in frustration. And as you heard, every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart. But I have to get up the next morning and keep on fighting,” Sotomayor said in remarks reported by CNN.
Sotomayor, who assumed her current position in August 2009, is the Court’s senior liberal justice alongside Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, while the six conservative justices hold the majority.
“Change never happens on its own. Change happens because people care about moving the arc of the universe toward justice, and it can take time and it can take frustration,” Sotomayor added, referring to her disappointment in the current ideological makeup of the Court and how it’s moving the U.S. further to the right.
The liberal justice’s comments come as the Court’s conservative supermajority is set to rule on a spate of contentious issues, including gun rights and Texas’s right to secure its border in defiance of the federal government. Sotomayor and her two liberal colleagues have often been on the losing side of several cases in recent years after former president Donald Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Court.
During Monday’s event, Sotomayor also spoke about the impact of oral arguments on a justice’s vote and how each attorney before the Court needs to make their case with more focus on how its details could shape American law for better or worse.
“I can’t tell you how often I’ll look at Neil Gorsuch and I’ll send him a note and say, ‘I want to kill that lawyer.’ Because he or she didn’t give up that case. Because by the time you come to the Supreme Court, it’s not about your client anymore. It’s not about their case,” she said.