5 Things We Can Learn From Sonia Sotomayor
The Supreme Court nominee is teaching all women some valuable lessons
When President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, he described her as “an inspiring woman, who I believe will make a great justice.” As her three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee have drawn to a close, we have gotten to know this Bronx-born daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants a little more, and her behavior while under a barrage of questioning has revealed that she is a woman of many facets. Keep the following tips in mind next time you are under pressure.
1. Keep Your Cool
Sotomayor has spent the past few weeks having one-on-one meetings with senators, but a good deal of her time in the nation’s capital was devoted to special coaching sessions. This training helped to prepare her for the rigorous hearings where every aspect of her judicial career – and some aspects of her private life that could affect her decision-making – would be put under the microscope. “You have to get your game face on and you have to have that mentality that I’m going to go through this drill and do it in real time,” says Ed Gillespie, who helped guide judges Roberts and Alito through their confirmation hearings. While conservatives have been waiting with baited breath for this fiery Latina to lose it, she was an ice queen as evidenced by her response to Senator Jon Kyl: “We apply law to facts. We don’t apply feelings to facts.” Cool as a cucumber.
2. Tell It Like It Is
Republican lobbyist Tom Korologos had some sound advice for the nominee: “Pause before you answer; senators will think they’ve asked a tough question. If they do ask a tough question and you need to hit back, lean forward into the microphone as you do it. That makes you look unafraid.” Sotomayor seemed to follow his advice, and she combined her thoughtful answers with a sense of humor and a little heart. When Senator Al Franken asked her why she wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor revealed how she told her mother about the nomination and acknowledged that she was going to take a large pay cut if she was confirmed and wouldn’t get to travel the world but that she couldn’t think of a greater service that she could give to this country. (Huffington Post)
3. Dress to Impress
They say that people under pressure reveal their true colors, and in Sotomayor’s case, those colors would appear to be red, pink and blue. The 55-year-old has chosen to wear bright, bold jackets that denote strength and confidence without being flashy. And even when she wore basic black, she paired it with a hot pink camisole. Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods would be so proud.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Name Drop
They say that the best defense is an offense, and in Sotomayor’s case, her offense involved invoking the name of the Commander in Chief. When pressed on her views about abortion, she replied that neither President Barack Obama nor anyone else in the White House had asked her about her views on abortion. “I was asked no questions by anyone including the president about my views on any specific legal issue,” she said.
5. Know That Your Mom Always Has Your Back
Sotomayor, who was raised in a Bronx housing project and went on to attend some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, lost her father when she was 9 years old. She credits her mother with shaping her into the woman that she is today. “There is one extraordinary person who is my life’s inspiration,” she said of her mother. “She often worked two jobs to help support us after Dad died. I have often said that I am all I am because of her. And I am only half the woman that she is.” During the hearings this week, her mom sat proudly behind her daughter. Smart move on the judge’s part, cause who in the committee would want to take on Sotomayor’s mom? To paraphrase Jennifer Lopez on Saturday Night Live, “Can you piss off a Puerto Rican [mom] and live to tell about it?”