Sotomayor: 'This is the scariest of times, and the most exciting times'

Justice Sonia Sotomayor emerged from pandemic-inspired unofficial quarantine on Wednesday to talk about turbulent times in the country.

“This is the scariest of times, and the most exciting times,” she said.
The liberal justice appeared with her conservative colleague, Justice Neil Gorsuch, in a rare Zoom event to promote civic education and stress respect for differing opinions, with both justices speaking broadly about the importance of the rule of law and the Constitution.
    It comes as the justices have found themselves sequestered in their homes or chambers hearing oral arguments by phone and contemplating divisive issues behind closed doors concerning the presidential election, abortion and health care, even as rioters attacked the Capitol across the street in January.
      “I see the civil discourse as having many benefits. It’s getting people engaged who otherwise haven’t been,” Sotomayor said and referenced the high turnout for the last election.
        “Yet at the same time we have seen some cracks in our system,” she added. “We have a great deal of partisan, very heated debate going on, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it can turn into an awful thing and into something that destroys the fabric of our community if we don’t learn how to talk to each other,” she said.
        The justices appeared to be speaking from their homes for an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled “Civics as a National Security Imperative.”
          For his part, Gorsuch stressed collegiality and respect and held the court out as a good model of “how democracy is supposed to work.”
          He noted that the court is composed of people from “all across the country” with “radically different life experiences” who share a love for the country.
          More than that, Gorsuch added, his colleagues “really love one another, respect one another and listen to one another.”
            He confessed that he and Sotomayor don’t always agree, at which point she corrected him and joked that they “don’t agree often.”
            “How can a democracy function if we can’t talk to one another and if we can’t disagree kindly, with respect for one another’s differences,” Gorsuch said.

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