Sotomayor: Kavanaugh now part of the Supreme Court ‘family’

Sotomayor: Kavanaugh now part of the Supreme Court ‘family’
© Greg Nash

Justice Sonia Sotomayor says her colleagues have welcomed the Supreme Court's newest justice, Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCourt-packing becomes new litmus test on left Warren, Harris, Gillibrand back efforts to add justices to Supreme Court Pence traveling to SC for Graham reelection launch MORE, into the court's “family” after his confirmation process captivated the nation and further exposed its partisan divides.

"When you're charged with working together for most of the remainder of your life, you have to create a relationship," Sotomayor told CNN’s "Axe Files" in an interview released Saturday.

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"The nine of us are now a family and we're a family with each of us our own burdens and our own obligations to others, but this is our work family, and it's just as important as our personal family," she said.

"We've probably spent more time with each other than most justices spend — who have spouses — with their spouses."

Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was thrown into tumult this fall after three women publicly accused him of sexual misconduct stemming from his time in high school and college in the early 1980s.

Kavanaugh vehemently denied the charges, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE and GOP lawmakers vocally defending him. He was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in a 50-48 vote, with Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change MORE (D-W.Va.) the only Democrat to support him.

The confirmation process sparked protests on Capitol Hill, with anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators confronting lawmakers in the hallways of the Capitol. Both parties argued the bitter confirmation fight would energize their base heading into the midterm elections earlier this month.

Sotomayor, who was appointed by former President Obama to the high court in 2009, told CNN she thinks the focus on Kavanaugh will now shift to the actions he takes on the court.

"It was Justice [Clarence] Thomas who tells me that when he first came to the Court, another justice approached him and said, 'I judge you by what you do here. Welcome.' And I repeated that story to Justice Kavanaugh when I first greeted him here," she said.

Thomas was accused of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation in 1991 and was also narrowly confirmed by the Senate.

During her interview, Sotomayor also pushed back on the idea that Kavanaugh’s confirmation tilted the court further to the right.

Kavanaugh, who has strong conservative bona fides, replaced Anthony Kennedy, who was considered a centrist and the court’s swing vote.

"Conservative, liberal, those are political terms," she said. "Do I suspect that I might be dissenting a bit more? Possibly, but I still have two relatively new colleagues, one very new colleague, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. And we've agreed in quite a few cases, we've disagreed in a bunch, But you know, let's see."