137+ Best Sonia Sotomayor Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Sonia Maria Sotomayor is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2009, she was confirmed as the first Latina Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. Wisest Sonia Sotomayor quotes will inspire you to overcoming adversity and create a meaningful life of love and justice.

If you’re searching for life quotes and sayings that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of notable Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes, Harvey Milk quotes, and Kofi Annan quotes.

Sonia Sotomayor Quotes

All judges have cases that touch our passions deeply, but we all struggle constantly with remaining impartial. – Sonia Sotomayor

If your child marches to a different beat, a different drummer, you might just have to go along with that music. Help them achieve what’s important to them. – Sonia Sotomayor

Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t give up because you are paralyzed by insecurity or overwhelmed by the odds, because in giving up, you give up hope. Understand that failure is a process in life, that only in trying can you enrich yourself and have the possibility of moving forward. The greatest obstacle in life is fear and giving up because of it. – Sonia Sotomayor

Success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared. – Sonia Sotomayor

You know, failure hurts. Any kind of failure stings. If you live in the sting, you will – undoubtedly – fail. My way of getting past the sting is to say no, I’m just not going to let this get me down. – Sonia Sotomayor

But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is instirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward. And after a time you may recognize That the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today. – Sonia Sotomayor

I came to accept during my freshman year that many of the gaps in my knowledge and understanding were simply limits of class and cultural background, not lack of aptitude or application as I’d feared. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences. – Sonia Sotomayor

I don’t have a professional aspiration. But I do have a personal one: I want to continue growing as a person. I want to reach out more to people, learn more from them. Ultimately, I would like to be a great justice that people remember with respect and fondness. – Sonia Sotomayor

Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich. – Sonia Sotomayor

I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences, but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate. – Sonia Sotomayor

I savor life. When you have anything that threatens life… it prods you into stepping back and really appreciating the value of life and taking from it what you can. – Sonia Sotomayor

Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision? – Sonia Sotomayor

If you’re poor, you don’t often live near a good school. If it’s a competitive public school program, our kids are not prepared to enter those programs. – Sonia Sotomayor

Diabetes taught me discipline. – Sonia Sotomayor

Without question, so many people, throughout my life, never think of Puerto Rico as part of the United States. Many people have no idea what the relationship is between Puerto Rico and the United States. And certainly, I have been asked if we are citizens. – Sonia Sotomayor

Although wisdom is built on life experiences, the mere accumulation of years guarantees nothing. – Sonia Sotomayor

There are no bystanders in this life. – Sonia Sotomayor

I was fifteen years old when I understood how it is that things break down: people can’t imagine someone else’s point of view. – Sonia Sotomayor

Since I have difficulty defining merit and what merit alone means – and in any context, whether it’s judicial or otherwise – I accept that different experiences in and of itself, bring merit to the system. – Sonia Sotomayor

With my academic achievement in high school I was accepted rather readily at Princeton and equally as fast at Yale, but my test scores were not comparable to that of my classmates. And that’s been shown by statistics, there are reasons for that – there are cultural biases built into testing, and that was one of the motivations for the concept of affirmative action to try to balance out those effects. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am Puerto Rican, born and raised in the south Bronx. My test scores were not comparable to my colleagues at Princeton and Yale. Not so far off so that I wasn’t able to succeed at those institutions. – Sonia Sotomayor

Sometimes, even if there was no useful advice to give, I saw that listening still helped. – Sonia Sotomayor

I think that even someone who got into an institution through affirmative action could prove they were qualified by what they accomplished there. – Sonia Sotomayor

If the system is broken, my inclination is to fix it rather than to fight it. I have faith in the process of the law, and if it is carried out fairly, I can live with the results, whatever they may be. – Sonia Sotomayor

I’ve spent my whole life learning how to do things that were hard for me. – Sonia Sotomayor

You can’t be a minority in this society without having someone express disapproval about affirmative action. – Sonia Sotomayor

Same way I have my entire life. Keep my family and friends close. My Latino friends close. I visit the island [Puerto Rico] as often as I humanly can. – Sonia Sotomayor

[On the desert:] The wind was a constant, and when you paid attention, it seemed like the earth’s own breathing. – Sonia Sotomayor

The truth is that since childhood I had cultivated an existential independence. It came from perceiving the adults around me as unreliable, and without it I felt I wouldn’t have survived. I cared deeply for everyone in my family, but in the end I depended on myself. – Sonia Sotomayor

You always wonder whether the attacks on my capabilities came from an honest evaluation of my accomplishments or from stereotypical presumptions that we, people of color, just can’t do it, for some reason. This is, for an accomplished Latino, an accomplished African American, an accomplished anyone who disproves stereotypes, it’s a constant battle in your life. – Sonia Sotomayor

The dynamism of any diverse community depends not only on the diversity itself but on promoting a sense of belonging among those who formerly would have been considered and felt themselves outsiders. – Sonia Sotomayor

I don’t believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it. – Sonia Sotomayor

There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, difficulty can tap unexpected strengths. – Sonia Sotomayor

I realized that people had an unreal image of me, that somehow I was a god on Mount Olympus. I decided that if I were going to make use of my role as a Supreme Court Justice, it would be to inspire people to realize that, first, I was just like them and second, if I could do it, so could they. – Sonia Sotomayor

Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. – Sonia Sotomayor

Pretending to be a princess is fun, but it is definitely not a career. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with. – Sonia Sotomayor

When everyone at school is speaking one language, and a lot of your classmates’ parents also speak it, and you go home and see that your community is different -there is a sense of shame attached to that. It really takes growing up to treasure the specialness of being different. – Sonia Sotomayor

We have to look and ensure that we’re paying attention to what we’re doing, so that we don’t reflexively institute processes and procedures that exclude people without thought. – Sonia Sotomayor

Every lawyer, no matter whom they represent, is trying to help someone, whether it’s a person, a corporation, a government entity, or a small or big business. To me, lawyering is the height of service – and being involved in this profession is a gift. – Sonia Sotomayor

To me, lawyering is the height of service – and being involved in this profession is a gift. – Sonia Sotomayor

I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government. – Sonia Sotomayor

I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences. – Sonia Sotomayor

My diabetes is such a central part of my life… it did teach me discipline… it also taught me about moderation… I’ve trained myself to be super-vigilant… because I feel better when I am in control. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am a New Yorker, and 7:00 A.M. is a civilized hour to finish the day, not to start it. – Sonia Sotomayor

An alcoholic father, poverty, my own juvenile diabetes, the limited English my parents spoke – although my mother has become completely bilingual since. All these things intrude on what most people think of as happiness. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have always been actively involved in my community, belonging to organizations that promote the interests of Latinos. But I also know that the issues we confront are the same issues, in many respects, as the larger community. So, what we do helps not just us but everybody. – Sonia Sotomayor

You make your life choices understanding that you might and do have to work harder to prove yourself. – Sonia Sotomayor

The President [Barack Obama] had suggested that I not watch the news during the confirmation process. I assiduously followed his advice. – Sonia Sotomayor

If I write a book where all I’ve ever experienced is success, people won’t take a positive lesson from it. In being candid, I have to own up to my own failures, both in my marriage and in my work environment. – Sonia Sotomayor

My judicial philosophy is fidelity to the law. – Sonia Sotomayor

As you discover what strength you can draw from your community in this world from which it stands apart, look outward as well as inward. Build bridges instead of walls. – Sonia Sotomayor

I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth. – Sonia Sotomayor

Remember that no one succeeds alone. Never walk alone in your future paths. – Sonia Sotomayor

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life. – Sonia Sotomayor

Experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. – Sonia Sotomayor

When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become–whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm–her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this. – Sonia Sotomayor

Don’t mistake politeness for lack of strength. – Sonia Sotomayor

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. – Sonia Sotomayor

Through reading, I escaped the bad parts of my life in the South Bronx. And, through books, I got to travel the world and the universe. It, to me, was a passport out of my childhood and it remains a way – through the power of words – to change the world. – Sonia Sotomayor

The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever. – Sonia Sotomayor

Until we reach equality in education, we can’t reach equality in the larger society. – Sonia Sotomayor

As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have come to believe that in order to thrive, a child must have at least one adult in her life who shows her unconditional love, respect, and confidence. – Sonia Sotomayor

A surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence. – Sonia Sotomayor

In every position that I’ve been in, there have been naysayers who don’t believe I’m qualified or who don’t believe I can do the work. And I feel a special responsibility to prove them wrong. – Sonia Sotomayor

You can’t dream unless you know what the possibilities are. – Sonia Sotomayor

A role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, Yes, someone like me can do this. – Sonia Sotomayor

We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice. – Sonia Sotomayor

The challenges I have faced – among them material poverty, chronic illness, and being raised by a single mother – are not uncommon, but neither have they kept me from uncommon achievements. – Sonia Sotomayor

We apply law to facts. We don’t apply feelings to facts. – Sonia Sotomayor

I had no need to apologize that the look-wider, search-more affirmative action that Princeton and Yale practiced had opened doors for me. That was its purpose: to create the conditions whereby students from disadvantaged backgrounds could be brought to the starting line of a race many were unaware was even being run. – Sonia Sotomayor

It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand. – Sonia Sotomayor

Sometimes, idealistic people are put off the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world, you have to be known to people. – Sonia Sotomayor

I listened very, very carefully to the world around me to pick up the signals of when trouble was coming. Not that I could stop it. But it made me observant. That was helpful when I became a lawyer, because I knew how to read people’s signals. – Sonia Sotomayor

I was a keen observer and listener. I picked up on clues. I figured things out logically, and I enjoyed puzzles. I loved the clear, focused feeling that came when I concentrated on solving a problem and everything else faded out. – Sonia Sotomayor

I think it’s important to move people beyond just dreaming into doing. They have to be able to see that you are just like them, and you made it. – Sonia Sotomayor

In examining witnesses, I learned to ask general questions so as to elicit details with powerful sensory associations: the colors, the sounds, the smells that lodge an image in the mind and put the listener in the burning house. – Sonia Sotomayor

My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage. – Sonia Sotomayor

So many people grew up with challenges, as I did. There weren’t always happy things happening to me or around me. But when you look at the core of goodness within yourself – at the optimism and hope – you realize it comes from the environment you grew up in. – Sonia Sotomayor

I wouldn’t approach the issue of judging in the way the president does. Judges can’t rely on what’s in their heart. They don’t determine the law. Congress makes the law. The job of a judge is to apply the law. – Sonia Sotomayor

I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge regardless of their background or life experiences. – Sonia Sotomayor

It is our responsibility to explain to the public how an often-unpredictable system of justice is one that serves a productive, civilized, but always evolving, society. – Sonia Sotomayor

Each time I see a split infinitive, an inconsistent tense structure or the unnecessary use of the passive voice, I blister. – Sonia Sotomayor

I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights. – Sonia Sotomayor

It’s not the heart that compels conclusions in cases, it’s the law. – Sonia Sotomayor

It is very important when you judge to recognize that you have to stay impartial. That’s what the nature of my job is. I have to unhook myself from my emotional responses and try to stay within my unemotional, objective persona. – Sonia Sotomayor

Reaching a conclusion has to start with what the parties are arguing, but examining in all situations carefully the facts as they prove them or not prove them, the record as they create it, and then making a decision that is limited to what the law says on the facts before the judge. – Sonia Sotomayor

The task of a judge is not to make the law – it is to apply the law. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up. – Sonia Sotomayor

My job as a prosecutor is to do justice. And justice is served when a guilty man is convicted, and an innocent man is not. – Sonia Sotomayor

Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society. – Sonia Sotomayor

A career is something that you train for and prepare for and plan on doing for a long time. – Sonia Sotomayor

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have never, ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive. – Sonia Sotomayor

I’ve never wanted to get adjusted to my income, because I knew I wanted to go back to public service. And in comparison, to what my mother earns and how I was raised, it’s not modest at all. I have no right to complain. – Sonia Sotomayor

The worst thing you want is a willy-nilly judge who is swayed by the political whims of the era or the time. What you want is a judge who is thinking about what he or she is doing and is thinking about it in a principled way. – Sonia Sotomayor

I honestly felt no envy or resentment, only astonishment at how much of a world there was out there and how much of it others already knew. The agenda for self-cultivation that had been set for my classmates by their teachers and parents was something I’d have to develop for myself. – Sonia Sotomayor

I think that the day a justice forgets that each decision comes at a cost to someone, then I think you start losing your humanity. – Sonia Sotomayor

When I call myself an affirmative action baby, I’m talking about the essence of what affirmative action was when it started. – Sonia Sotomayor

I’m a New Yorker, and I jaywalk with the best of them. – Sonia Sotomayor

Much of the uncertainty of law is not an unfortunate accident: it is of immense social value. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am a very spiritual person. Maybe not traditionally religious in terms of Sunday Mass every week, that sort of thing. – Sonia Sotomayor

When I’m concentrating, I can be fixed in place for hours. In fact, there was a joke in my office that everybody would come and chat outside my door because they knew – no matter how loud they talked – if I was concentrating, it would not disturb me at all. – Sonia Sotomayor

I don’t prejudge issues. I come to every case with an open mind. Every case is new to me. – Sonia Sotomayor

I hope that as the Senate and American people learn more about me, they will see that I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. – Sonia Sotomayor

All I can say is that with business and the interest of any party before me, I will consider and apply the law as it is written by Congress and informed by precedent. – Sonia Sotomayor

All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. I know. – Sonia Sotomayor

I found in my experiences that it’s not that men are consciously discriminating against promoting women, but I do believe as people we have self-images about what’s good. – Sonia Sotomayor

What’s quote-unquote a ‘good’ lawyer, doctor, or whatever the profession is. And if you’re a male who grew up professionally in a male-dominated profession, then your image of what a good lawyer is a male image. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have ventured to write more intimately about my personal life than is customary for a member of the Supreme Court, and with that candor comes a measure of vulnerability. – Sonia Sotomayor

This wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. – Sonia Sotomayor

I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration. That person is my mother, Celina Sotomayor. – Sonia Sotomayor

The first case I sat on… was Citizens United. Talk about being thrown in. Needless to say, if I was scared before, I was terrified. – Sonia Sotomayor

To have a romance, you have to have time. I’m a justice. I’ve written a book. The guy’s gonna have to wait until I’m a little bit freer. – Sonia Sotomayor

Even though Article IV of the Constitution says that treaties are the ‘supreme law of the land,’ in most instances they’re not even law. – Sonia Sotomayor

I’m young at heart. I’m young in spirit, and I’m still adventurous. – Sonia Sotomayor

Sometimes it gets boring. No justice is supposed to say that. But, you know, there’s drudgery in every job you’re going to do. – Sonia Sotomayor

I was raised in a Bronx public housing project but studied at two of the nation’s finest universities. I did work as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting violent crimes that devastate our communities. – Sonia Sotomayor

I do think there is a value in the services of judges for long periods of time. – Sonia Sotomayor

When you come from a background like mine, where you’re entering worlds that are so different than your own, you have to be afraid. – Sonia Sotomayor

No matter how liberal I am, I’m still outraged by crimes of violence. Regardless of whether I can sympathize with the causes that lead these individuals to do these crimes, the effects are outrageous. – Sonia Sotomayor

I have had positive experiences with cameras. When I have been asked to join experiments using cameras in the courtroom, I have participated; I have volunteered. – Sonia Sotomayor

The schools that suffer are the schools in, in poor neighborhoods. They are the neighborhoods with the greatest need, with the parents struggling to work and to make ends meet. They don’t have enough resources to give, they don’t have enough resources to pay more, and these are the neighborhoods that go first. – Sonia Sotomayor

When you have strong views about how to approach thinking about the law, then that view is going to lead to certain results in certain situations. And so people seem to think this predictability is based on some kind of partisan political view. But it’s not. – Sonia Sotomayor

I barely saw my mother, and the mom I saw was often angry and unhappy. The mother I grew up with is not the mother I know now. It’s not the mother she became after my father died, and that’s been the greatest prize of my life. – Sonia Sotomayor

Being a justice. If you love law the way I do… you’re given the job of a lifetime… you’re permitted to address the most important legal questions of the country, and sometimes the world. And in doing so, you make a difference in people’s lives. – Sonia Sotomayor

There are cultural biases built into testing, and that was one of the motivations for the concept of affirmative action – to try to balance out those effects. – Sonia Sotomayor

Oh my God, I don’t think you can say anyone looks forward to controversy. – Sonia Sotomayor

As you may know from my life story, my cousin who was my soul mate went to a public school. And he died of AIDS. Would I and my brother have been able to resist the lure of drugs in the surrounding schools? Who knows. – Sonia Sotomayor

As a Catholic, you can have two views on capital punishment. You can think, let Caesar do what Caesar needs to do, and the law says you can impose capital punishment, so you impose it. You can [also] be a Catholic who says we can’t kill; we can’t kill babies and we can’t kill adults. If you let a decision be driven by your personal views, then you are not doing what a judge needs to do, which is enforce the laws of the society that you are in. But you can control your own behavior, and that is the choice that the church and God gives us – what kind of people are we going to be. – Sonia Sotomayor

To the extent that the parents who send their children to these [Catholic] schools are parents like my own, who actually have faith in the church. Faith that it will provide their children with safety, a decent education and values about life and others. This is an institution that stands for all good in the world. – Sonia Sotomayor

I think being a Catholic made me a better person. It taught me how to choose good over evil, and how to be a more caring human being. – Sonia Sotomayor

I had many reasons for writing this book but among them was the hope that every Latino child and adult would find something familiar in it. And my hope is that when they finish reading the book, that they will come away with a renewed sense of pride in our culture and in who we are. We get a lot of strength from that [culture and identity] and we should be proud of it. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am growing to love DC. This [Washington] is a beautiful city. I think every citizen should come see their capital. A lot of the museums are free, there are restaurants that are reasonably priced. – Sonia Sotomayor

I am willing to bet that there are some Puerto Ricans who don’t know about their status. – Sonia Sotomayor

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