Sotomayor's Opening Statement: Less Is More

Sotomayor's Opening Statement: Less Is More

Sotomayor's Opening Statement: Less Is More

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 13 2009 3:58 PM

Sotomayor's Opening Statement: Less Is More

Emily Bazelon Emily Bazelon

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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Sotomayor speaks ... for less time than it takes a senator to clear his throat. I think I’m in the minority here, but I wanted more of her. Why not end the day on a bolder note?

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OK, OK, the answer is obvious. This way, the sound bites of the afternoon and evening and on through tomorrow’s early mornings shows are of senators on the attack and Sotomayor soaring above them. She may not be a justice yet, but she is already playing the Olympian card. They were windy and overblown; she was gracious and understated. She started by thanking two of them by name (Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, for introducing her) and then the whole lot of 89 who met with her, and in the process gave an "illuminating tour of the 50 states and invaluable insights into the American people." She gave her mother special huge thanks, and pivoted expertly to how her mother studied alongside the judge and her brother, when they were kids, to become a registered nurse. "We worked hard," Sotomayor emphasized, punching out each word. I heard shades of New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci after his victory before the Supreme Court, when he said, "If you work hard, you can succeed in America, and all of these guys worked hard." Rhetoric ripe for reclaiming. Sotomayor’s sweet-looking, white-haired mother teared up, and who could blame her?

Two other lines that stood out to me (nice and short, ready made for TV and radio):

  • "My career as an advocate ended-and my career as a judge began-when I was appointed by President George H.W. Bush." Translation: She stopped pushing a cause when she stopped being a lawyer.
  • "In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law." No translation needed.

Photograph of Sonia Sotomayor by Alex Wong/Getty Images.