Published: Dec. 1, 2016 By

Sotomayor At Macky, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor walks the talk 

The justice confessed: She’s not one for sitting.

“I was called by my mother ‘aji’ — hot pepper,” Sonia Sotomayor told a Macky Auditorium audience Sept. 2. “I’ve gotten a lot older, but I still can’t sit still.”

So, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice said, she planned to get up, walk the aisles and answer questions while shaking hands. It would make her security detail anxious.

“Their job is to protect me — not from you, from me,” she tactfully told the chuckling audience.

Sotomayor made several appearances in Colorado leading up to Labor Day, culminating in a series of public and invitation-only events at CU Boulder. Her Macky talk was the fifth John Paul Stevens Lecture hosted by Colorado Law School’s Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. White (Econ’38) was a Supreme Court justice from 1962 to 1993.

Initially from the stage, Sotomayor — now more than seven years into her term but still one of the newest justices and, at 62, youngest — responded to questions posed by CU Law professor Melissa Hart. Then Sotomayor made a long, slow stroll around the center section seats, talking as she went.

She touched on influential books in her life (the Bible, Don Quixote, Lord of the Flies), memorable cases and her own stubbornness. She meditated on judges’ compulsion for consistency, the psychological gravity of working on the nation’s court of last resort — and the imperative of decisiveness amid the law’s ambiguity.

“You’re not very valuable to people if you can’t make up your mind,” she said. 

Photo by Glenn Asakawa