The 8th grade had the opportunity today to visit the Supreme Court, hear oral arguments in two cases, and have a private audience with Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
After reading summaries of the issues of the two cases today, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and AM Trucking Association, Inc v. Los Angeles, and discussing them in class, students sat in the court to hear the oral arguments and observe the Court in action. Afterwards, they debriefed the experience.
Later, we had a private audience with Justice Sotomayor. We took pictures with the Justice, which will be sent by the Court in the near future. We did snap this photo of the day's docket from the room where we met Justice Sotomayor.
After speaking with the students about the challenges and opportunities present in attending different high schools next year, Justice Sotomayor took questions from six students:
*Have you ever had a case where your heart and the Constitution were on conflict? Answer - changing the question to my heart and the law, the answer is certainly yes. (She gave some specific examples.)
*Of all the challenges you have faced, which one has had the greatest influence on your life? Answer - learning to cope with my diabetes.
*Now that you have accomplished your dream of becoming a successful lawyer and judge, what do you next hope to accomplish? Answer: I want to be the best Justice I can be in terms of writing clear, concise, and poignant opinions. Further, I feel a lot of pressure of being at he top. As a lower court judge, I always knew that there were courts above that could affirm or overturn my decisions. Here, we are not only deciding the case before us but also setting precedent for all similar future cases.
*Are there any types of cases that are of particular interest to you? Answer - as a former lower court judge, I am always on the lookout for cases that will clarify legal procedural issues that will help the lower courts better rule on cases.
*When you first joined the Supreme Court, was there anything that surprised you about the Court? Answer - the most surprising characteristic was that, as a new Justice, I realized that I was entering an on-going conversation that the eight other Justices had been having and that context would be very important to learn.
*Who was the biggest influence on your life? Answer - my mother, easily. I see her influence in everything I do and in every way I act.