SAN DIEGO – Members of the Secret Service watched as hundreds of San Diegans made their way into University of San Diego’s Shiley Theater Sunday to see Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
“I think people feel proud about Sonia Sotomayor, but for Latinas, we are proud and excited to have her there,” said Lilia Velazquez an attorney in San Diego.
A daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, born and raised in the Bronx, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic ever on the Supreme Court.
Fresh off swearing in Vice President Joe Biden for a second term, the 58-year-old stopped by USD Sunday to speak with students and fans about her new book “My Beloved World.”
Sotomayor sat down to sign hundreds of copies of her book, she hopes will serve as inspiration – showing that no matter where you come from, if you work hard, anything is possible.
“You can’t put it down,” a Sotomayor fan said. “I think what I like about the book is that it’s very personal, very easy to read.”
In her book, Sotomayor talks about her difficulties growing up. She described living with her alcoholic father, being diagnosed with diabetes early on in life and what it was like growing up in the Bronx.
Experiences she said helped her get to where she is today.
Sotomayor got personal during a question and answer session where media cameras were not allowed.
She talked about her mother being in the Army, what she likes to cook and advised students to “never sit in comfort and pursue experiences with people who are different than you.”
Justice Sotomayor said she could not comment on past or current decisions by the Supreme Court, but mentioned that the justice job is an ultimate commitment.
“I’m surprised of how hard the job is and how heavy the burden is,” she said.
The Supreme Court Justice was asked about her role in changing the vocabulary of the Supreme Court – to cease the use of the term illegal immigrant.
“Whether it’s breaking the speed limit or jaywalking, all of us have committed at some point an illegal act…coming into the country without proper documents is illegal, but the correct term is undocumented,” Sotomayor said.
“The fact that she has that context, she has that background, and she may even know people or have relatives that have no documents will bring humanity to the Supreme Court,” another attendee said.