Justice Sotomayor: I don’t mix my Puerto Rican roots with legal decisions
SAN JUAN – Although Justice Sonia Sotomayor says she is proud of having a “Puerto Rican heart,” she assured this weekend that she “does not represent Puerto Rico” as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I don’t represent Puerto Rico. I represent justice,” Sotomayor said during her presentation at the Plaza Las Américas shopping mall of the Spanish edition of her books, “El mundo adorado de Sonia Sotomayor” (“The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor”) and “Pasando páginas” (“Turning Pages”).
For Justice Sotomayor, the distinction “is a very big difference” because she must hear cases in which “I cannot defend the position of Puerto Rico or of any other person, Puerto Rican or not, because the law doesn’t allow it.”
Amid the apparent conflict regarding her identity, Sotomayor did not hesitate to assure that “sometimes the law does not result in good things; at those times, I trust that the laws are made by people who pass good laws, by people who pass bad laws and by people who change the bad laws.
“Many times I have had cases in which I did not like the presumption, and I’ve had to do. But I always write and explain why I think the law has not been fair in that situation,” she explained.
Justice Sotomayor, who was born in New York to Puerto Rican-born parents, was named to the Supreme Court in 2009 by then-President Barack Obama. After her confirmation, she became the third woman to be named associate justice and the first Hispanic to hold the position.
Justice Sotomayor is associated with the group of liberal justices that compose the Supreme Court and is identified as concerned for the rights of the accused and favoring reform of the criminal justice system in the United States.
Although she feels Puerto Rican, she unequivocally asserts that she is “pure American.”
“I always say I’m a pure American, born in New York, raised there, educated there…. But while being a pure American, I have a Puerto Rican heart, and that was given to me by my family. They gave it to me in several ways…the food I eat–the porkchops, the rice and beans, the tostones [fried plantain], the pasteles [seasoned meat encased in either plantain or yucca plant masa wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled] during Christmas–the coquí [small frog endemic to Puerto Rico]…,” Sotomayor told the audience.
The Justice Sotomayor was not available to answer questions from the press after the presentation.