NEW YORK — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor told college students in New York City that she sometimes feels “great turmoil” inside when she is hearing arguments on the bench, but works hard to keep her emotions and personal biases in check.
Sotomayor participated in a question-and-answer session with Queens College students Monday at an event celebrating the college’s 80th anniversary.
“You can’t do human activity and judging is a human activity without having human emotions,” she told the crowd at the LeFrak Concert Hall. “The sense of how you deal with it is to acknowledge it. I look at it, examine it, try to figure out the effect it’s having, and then try to adjust my behaviour in accordance.”
When addressing a question about minority women in leadership roles, Sotomayor said societal gender separation starts from a very young age “whether we recognize it or not.” Women are taught to have softer voices or to not be as engaged in the classroom, she said.
She said many of the things that are assumed to be part of someone’s personality, are actually not, and are instead part of an “ingrained social method of dealing with the world.”
“When you learn something bad, what do you have to do?” Sotomayor asked. “You have to unlearn it. Behavior of all kinds can be altered. . All of the things that we think are us, if they’re not helping you, you can change them.”