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SCOTUS altered oral arguments in part because female judges were interrupted, Sotomayor says

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She also said that it is a dynamic that exists not only on the ground but also in society.

“Most of the time women say things and they are not heard the same as men who might say the same thing,” she said.

Sotomayor said she noticed the pattern “without a doubt” before the system was altered on the bench and sometimes responded in ways she probably knew not ideal. “I’ll interrupt you in return,” she said.

The comments came at a conference outside New York University Law School for a conference devoted to diversity and inclusion. Sotomayor spoke about the country’s changing demographics, the need for greater professional diversity in the field and what he felt about being the first Latina in court.

The court’s new system of oral argument has been most evident this quarter now that the judges are back in open court. So far, even in contentious cases, the judges have not cut each other off, which has often happened in the past. The traditional format has been changed to allow each judge – once a lawyer’s time has expired – to ask specific questions in order of seniority.

The new system seemed particularly appealing to Judge Clarence Thomas. For years he rarely asked questions on the bench, and this term he became an active participant and opened every set of arguments with a question.

Sotomayor was also asked about diversity in a different context. Kenji Yoshino, a professor at New York University School of Law, noted that several of the court’s conservative members adhere to originalism – the judicial theory that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was understood in moment of foundation. He asked if this approach would become “more and more untenable” as the demographic composition of the country continues to deviate considerably from the composition of the framers.

Sotomayor agreed that a number of her colleagues adhere to the philosophy and she said: “if and how it will lead to a dissonance between what we decide and what the general population accepts as what the law should be – is a fascinating question ”.

The Supreme Court faces a hit term on whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, and expanding the scope of the Second Amendment.

SCOTUS altered oral arguments in part because female judges were interrupted, Sotomayor says

She said there would be “an intense dialogue from society as a whole on the role of the courts in our society” and noted that there had already been discussions among critics of the conservative majority on whether the composition of the tribunal should change. .

Sotomayor also echoed President Joe Biden’s criticisms of the current tribunal’s lack of professional diversity. She noted that when Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, “we lost our only civil rights lawyer” and that there is currently no other justice that has “been in the trenches” on civil rights, immigration. or environmental law.

“I am concerned that the authorities who select the judges are not paying enough attention to this kind of diversity as well,” Sotomayor said. She said she is working to hire paralegals from a variety of backgrounds and carefully selects her audience to get her message out.

She was also asked if she feels extra pressure because she is the first Latina on the pitch.

SCOTUS altered oral arguments in part because female judges were interrupted, Sotomayor says

“If you are a person of color, you have to work harder than everyone else to be successful,” Sotomayor said. “It’s the nature of – the competitive nature of our company – where you have to prove yourself every day.”

“And I don’t know a lot of people of color who don’t go into this business without feeling the pressure of knowing they have to work harder,” she said.

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