Justice Sotomayor on Justice Thomas

Just because justices disagree, does not mean they aren't fond of one another.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's close friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia is well known. Indeed, the Notorious RBG wrote the Foreword to Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, the recently published volume of her notoriously conservative colleague's speeches and lectures.

Was the Ginsburg-Scalia relationship an aberration? I would hope not.

In recent remarks at the Vanderbilt Law School, Justice Sonia Sotomayor commented on Justice Clarence Thomas. From the Tennessean coverage:

Speaking during a wide-ranging question-and-answer session at the law school, Sotomayor touched on a number of topics, from her debut as a judge — which made her knees knock with nerves — to her strong bond with fellow Justice Clarence Thomas, who often disagrees with her on the bench. . . .

Sotomayor repeatedly returned to the theme of empathy during her remarks.

"A lot of people start with derision as their first response" to a disagreement, she said.

But she suggested it's better to forge relationships built on common ground even if you disagree with someone. She singled out Thomas as the justice "with whom I probably disagree the most.

"Yet I can stand here and say that I just love the man — as a person."

Justice Sotomayor's comments and Justice Ginsburg's fondness for Justice Scalia should remind us that political disagreement need not poison personal relationships.

(Hat tip: How Appealing.)