Sotomayor says Kavanaugh a part of the Supreme Court 'family'
Posted November 17, 2018 8:38 a.m. EST
(CNN) — Justice Sonia Sotomayor in an interview with CNN's David Axelrod said that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was welcomed into the Supreme Court "family" in the wake of his polarizing confirmation process.
"When you're charged with working together for most of the remainder of your life, you have to create a relationship," Sotomayor said in an "Axe Files" interview airing Saturday.
"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.
"We've probably spent more time with each other than most justices spend, who have spouses, with their spouses," she added.
Kavanaugh, who has served since being confirmed early last month, had his confirmation thrown into doubt after a tense Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September in which California professor Christine Blasey Ford alleged the Supreme Court nominee had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s. Kavanaugh denied the allegations against him.
Sotomayor said despite the contentious confirmation, she told Kavanaugh that the focus on him will settle on his actions as part of 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 after being nominated in 1991 and also narrowly confirmed by the Senate.
Sotomayor, who was first confirmed to the court in 2009, also pushed back on the notion that Kavanaugh's presence cements a conservative tilt on the Court -- an institution she said is above "political terms."
"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."
When asked modern political discourse, Sotomayor said too large of an emphasis has been put on differences rather than common "human values."
"We all have families we love, we all care about others, we care about our country, and we care when people are injured," she told Axelrod. "And unfortunately, the current conversation often forgets that. It forgets our commonalities and focuses on superficial differences whether those are language or how people look or the same God they pray to but in different ways.
"Those differences truly are not important," she added. "What is important is those human values we share and those human feelings that we share. But I worry that we forget about that too often."