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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks at Clemson University

If U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had one piece of advice for Clemson University students, what would it be?
“There are no bad choices, unless you engage in criminal activity. That’s a bad choice.”
More than 950 people packed the Brooks Center auditorium for the moderated question-and-answer session with Sotomayor.
Sotomayor didn’t stay seated for long — instead she walked around the audience and took pictures with students mid-speech.
“For some of you who may know me, I don’t like sitting still,” Sotomayor told the audience. “As a child, I was known as a troublemaker — I still am.”
Sotomayor mixed her speech with advice for students and glimpses of what life is like at the Supreme Court.
“If you think every moment as a justice is fascinating, I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not,” she told the crowd.
Sotomayor also discussed the challenges she’s faced during her time as a Supreme Court Justice.
“During my confirmation hearing, there were many critics who were saying that I simply wasn’t smart enough to be a Supreme Court Justice,” she said. “Now, I graduated from Princeton summa cum laude. I was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. I’ve been on the district court and the court of appeals. It’s hard to imagine what other credentials I could have gotten to be on the Supreme Court.”
Sotomayor added that if it hadn’t been for the support of friends and family, the criticism might have pushed her to withdraw from consideration for the court.
“I don’t wallow in it all the time, because if I did, it would defeat me,” Sotomayor said. “You have to measure yourself by the progress you make at every opportunity that you are given. You have to sit not on the laurels of getting in, but what you accomplish while you’re there.”
Sotomayor says that when and if she leaves the Supreme Court, she plans to continue working.
“I’m going back to the trial bench,” she said, adding that she enjoys interacting with people.
Audience members seemed to have enjoyed Sotomayor’s talk.
The Q&A session was moderated by Clemson professor Vernon Burton, who told the audience he hired Sotomayor as a research assistant to help him with data entry while he was a graduate student at Princeton University.
Sotomayor was not the only Supreme Court justice visiting South Carolina on Thursday. Justice Samuel Alito was in Columbia to deliver a speech at the dedication of the University of South Carolina School of Law’s new building.

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