Justice Sotomayor Admits Some SCOTUS Rulings Have Driven Her To Tears


Justice Sonia Sotomayor admitted on Friday that some of the conservative-leaning Supreme Court’s rulings have privately driven her to tears — and hinted that there are likely going to be more of such instances soon as the high court gears up to hand down majorly consequential decisions.

Sotomayor made the vulnerable remarks at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where she received a medal for being what the institute said is “a discerning jurist who never fails to recognize the human impact of legal decisions.”

“There are days that I’ve come to my office after an announcement of a case and closed my door and cried,” the liberal justice said. “There have been those days. And there are likely to be more.”

Sotomayor’s comments come around the time of year when the Supreme Court decides the fate of several high-profile cases. As is the situation every year, justices usually issue opinions on the most controversial cases around June — a period that has become increasingly fraught as the court grows more extreme and ideologically unbalanced.

Among dozens of other rulings, the court is expected to hand down major decisions next month on whether states with abortion bans can ignore federal mandates for hospitals and criminalize life-saving abortion care in emergency medical situations, whether the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to expand access to the abortion pill mifepristone and whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity from federal prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election.

“I live in frustration. And as you heard, every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart,” Sotomayor said earlier this year at the University of California, Berkeley’s law school. “But I have to get up the next morning and keep on fighting.”

Last week, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision along ideological lines that essentially allows states to gerrymander based on race — a move that would almost certainly shrink the voting power of Black Americans — as long as they publicly claim their congressional lines were drawn from partisan politics instead of race. Sotomayor and fellow liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined a fiery dissent written by Justice Elena Kagan.

Sotomayor has become widely known for issuing sharp dissents in major opinions decided by her conservative colleagues, repeatedly warning of the dangers that come with an extremely partisan court. In just the last couple years, the high court’s conservative supermajority has overturned Roe v. Wade, handed down a decision expanding gun rights, greenlit the first-ever execution of an incarcerated person by nitrogen gas and ruled in favor of halting affirmative action in the college admissions process.

“There are moments when I’m deeply, deeply sad,” Sotomayor said Friday at Harvard. “And there are moments when, yes, even I feel desperation. We all do.”

“But you have to own it. You have to accept it,” she continued. “You have to shed the tears, and then you have to wipe them and get up and fight some more.”