Sotomayor: It’s a mistake to believe ‘the law is clear’ in Supreme Court cases
Justice Sonia Sotomayor says “the biggest misconception people have” when Supreme Court rulings are weighed and handed down is that “the law is clear” to begin with.
“Most people think of the law as black and white, that there’s an answer,” Sotomayor said Tuesday during an appearance on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
“But the reality is, there isn’t a clear answer. Most of the time when the Supreme Court takes cases, it’s because the courts below that are disagreeing about the answer,” she added.
The laws, Sotomayor explained, are written generally.
“By the time the case comes to the Supreme Court, or to any court, actually — the courts below us or even the Supreme Court — it’s because the answer’s unclear. And that can be unsatisfying to people. They don’t understand why the judges are disagreeing. They don’t understand why it’s so hard.”
The courts help ensure that people who are trained in the law and who can “hope to be open-minded [and] fair” can “give their best answer of what the law means,” said Sotomayor, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Obama in 2009.
“So that, I think, that will give people some solace when they feel the courts made a wrong decision — understanding that the answers are not as easy to come to as they may want.”
Promoting her new children’s book “Just Help! How to Build a Better World,” the 67-year-old justice also told hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest that everyone has a part to play in mending problems that plague the globe.
“Everyone thinks that life just happens — things happen around us and we don’t understand why,” Sotomayor said.
“Well, things don’t just happen. Things happen because people have let them happen, and the problems of the world are there because we, as individuals, haven’t taken responsibility for fixing those problems.”
Sotomayor also appeared on “Today” on Tuesday and responded to a question from Savannah Guthrie about “falling” trust of the Supreme Court among Americans.
“I think all of us worry about that,” Sotomayor said.
“We think about ways in which we can comport ourselves, among ourselves to ensure that the public has confidence in what we’re doing,” she told the NBC morning show host.
“I do need to discuss this a little bit with the public to assure them that one of the hardest things about our work is that there are no easy answers. Reasonable people can disagree.”
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