“Change happens because people care about moving the arc of the universe toward justice, and it can take time and it can take frustration,” the left-leaning justice said
Sonia Sotomayor has some hope for the future, even if she's disheartened by a few recent Supreme Court rulings.
The liberal justice, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, opened up about her feelings on the court backtracking precedent in recent years, including reversing Roe v. Wade in 2022, due to the bench’s 6-3 conservative majority.
“I live in frustration… every loss truly traumatizes me, in my stomach and in my heart,” Sotomayor said at a University of California, Berkeley School of Law event on Monday. “But I have to get up the next morning and keep on fighting.”
Sotomayor has previously voiced concerns about the current Roberts Court, including a “growing” worry that separation of church and state has been disregarded since President Donald Trump appointed conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Last year, she wrote a scathing dissent on the court's landmark ruling on LGBTQ discrimination case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which ruled that a Christian web designer should not be required to design wedding websites for same-sex clients.
In the dissenting opinion, Sotomayor called the modern targeting of LGBTQ people "heartbreaking," and passionately wrote about the negative impact her colleagues' decision will have.
"Time and again, businesses and other commercial entities have claimed constitutional rights to discriminate," Sotomayor wrote. "And time and again, this Court has courageously stood up to those claims—until today. Today, the Court shrinks."
While acknowledging that her hands are often tied with the court's conservative supermajority on Monday, Sotomayor still noted that “change happens because people care about moving the arc of the universe toward justice, and it can take time and it can take frustration.”
She added that when she writes her dissents — knowing she's on the losing side of the argument in the present moment — she aims to write them "for the future, and probably for a different culture.”
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As Sotomayor has said before, she's still open to working with the conservative justices and looks to share moments of civility with her ideological foes to "lower the temperature." Justice Clarence Thomas, she explained as an example, should get praise for being the only justice who remembers “the name of every employee on the Supreme Court."
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