Some Justices Seem Wary of New Member
Excerpts released by C-SPAN in advance of its upcoming series on the Supreme Court, scheduled to begin airing October 4, suggest that some of the more conservative justices on the court are more wary of the impact their new colleague, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, may have on the court’s dynamic.
“To some extent, it’s unsettling,” says Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “You quickly get to view the court as . . . composed of these members, and it becomes kind of hard to think of it as involving anyone else. I suspect it’s like people look at their families.”
“It’s stressful for us because we so admire our colleagues,” adds Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. “We wonder, oh, will it ever be the same?”
“It changes the whole family,” agrees Justice Clarence Thomas. “It’s different. … I have to admit you grow very fond of the court that you spend a long time on. … You get comfortable with that, and then it changes. And now it’s changing again. So the institution, the Nine, is different, the reaction is different. You get to learn each other and you have to start all over, the chemistry is different.”
Although Justice Sotomayor has already participated in some decisions, including a dissent from the court’s refusal to consider a death penalty case involving a potentially innocent man, on Tuesday the new court will hear its first oral arguments, beginning with the much-anticipated campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.