At UR, Sotomayor says justices are ‘members of this society’: “That for me is the work of empathy”

Sotomayor said she attempts to bring empathy to her decisions by seeing herself “in the other person’s shoes.”


“It is that empathy, in my judgment, that is necessary for judges to have in their written opinions,” she said.

She cited as an example a case involving a 13-year-old girl who successfully sued her school after she was subjected to a strip search because she was reported to have taken an aspirin.
During arguments, some justices questioned how such a search was any different from undressing in a locker room.

That prompted Ginsburg to later comment that some of her male colleagues might not understand the sensitivity 13-year-old girls have about their bodies, Sotomayor said.

“It’s not the conclusions we draw but how we express ourselves,” she said. A ruling should not demean the losing party even when the court disagrees.

“That for me is the work of empathy,” she said.