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Professor Amar 0:05 We meet at a very interesting and fraught time in the history of the country and the court and just to set everyone's kind of mind at ease. This is a conversation among friends. I want to tell the audience something that I've said recently about the court as a whole because I consider not only you individually, my friends, I tried to be a friend of the court and amicus curiae I am in in a fancy Latin. Here's something that actually said at the confirmation hearings, the Senate confirmation hearings for one of your colleagues, and it's repeated in a piece that's actually coming out in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow, and this is about the court and I'm telling the senators this and I'm telling them some stuff that they may not quite want to hear because I'm I'm honest with my friends, but this is what I actually believe about the court and then we'll move to the first question. And this is why I said to the senators, Americans generally, and with good reason, you today's court more favorably than today's Congress and presidency. The current justices are outstanding lawyers. do loads of close reading, careful writing, and deep thinking. Try hard to see other points of view, spend lots of time pondering constitutional law, and spent little time posturing for cameras dialing for dollars. Tweeting snark or pandering to uninformed extremists or arrogant donors. Can today's President and Congress say the same? I came this close to being in contempt of Congress for that, but but I want the audience to know that's my honest view of the court. And here's one thing that I said even then I said, You all you're like me, your nerves, you do careful reading and careful writing and thinking and so I I want to take you each back because this is, you know, especially for educators, students and teachers. I want you to take us back to your own days as students because my impression and if I'm wrong, just tell me that is that when you're born I'm not sure anyone predict would have predicted Oh, that person is going to be a justice because they had all the advantages in life or or that person is going to be one because I don't think that was true. You know, you weren't born into power or wealth or position. My sense is that you both are where you are today, in part because of education because actually, you you you were serious students and you still are. Is that right or not for the folks out there the youngsters who might one day want to be where you are. What can you tell them about your early educational experiences? I know you've written about this and talked about this, but for this audience, in particular, maybe Justice Sotomayor, if we could begin with you.

Justice Sotomayor 3:05 Akhil, one of my former colleagues, Justice John Paul Stevens, when I was expressing some doubt about my abilities as a justice one day said, Sonia, no one is born a justice. No one is born. Anything you grow into becoming. You will grow as a justice. Give yourself time. And it's something I want to tell every student which is you look at others and you think she they're more accomplished than I am. They're smarter than I am. They can see things I can't see. And many of us start to feel inadequate about that. But I think we need to remember always, that life is a journey about learning. And it is the curiosity that we possess, to improve ourselves and become integral to it. So living that lets us succeed in life. And death helps define who we become and so kill, you know, from my background that I was born into an impoverished, physical environment, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States when I was growing up and that we lacked financial resources. I learned Spanish before I learned English. I've had other life situations. I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes since since I was seven years old. And yet none of those challenges have stopped me reaching where I have, and I attributed all of it to my education. And every part of it helped me grow as a human being had to become what I've become, and it's the same opportunity every child out there has and I just want them to encourage them to remember, learning should be fun. It should be learning about who you can become and how to get there. And so yes, education has been paramount for me.

Professor Amar 5:23 Thank you. Justice Barrett, same question. And also if you're willing not just to talk about your your own educational experiences, but maybe those of of your children and how and what you tell them. I'll never forget one moment when Justice Sotomayor met my kid my daughter, one of my daughters in particular, and she actually you know, autographed a little photograph but she actually wrote a line to my daughter about working hard in school and my daughter has taken she has that up in her wall i that means a lot to me as a parent. So if you want to talk not just about your own personal experiences, but your your experiences as a parent, we'd love to hear them.

Justice Barrett 6:03 Sure. I mean, so like Justice Sotomayor, education was very important to my upbringing and where I am now. And I think it was because and this would be for the educators listening to this. It was because early on, I mean, I can remember in first grade, my teacher taking me aside and giving me extra work to do and I think it's important to set a tone of curiosity and love for learning, and to encourage students and I watched you know, what happened to some of my siblings or some of my friends who maybe weren't encouraged early on. I think it took a little bit longer for them to feel like they could be good students like they could grow, to have the light the fire of curiosity and them and so I think it was the interest that my teachers took in me from a very young age that really helped when I was in third grade. My teacher set aside books that she thought that I and a couple of the other students would like and you know, she had the whole Nancy Drew series in the back and then she had like she would throw in history and biography and things that would be more challenging and that was really important to my self conception, as well as to my growing knowledge base. It didn't just help me learn things, but it also made me feel like I could do it. And I think that teachers who take that time as as you know, Professor Amar, I also spent time as a law professor. And I find even as you are teaching students when they're older, even in professional school, that encouragement is so important, because like Justice Sotomayor, we all have some self doubts. I had them and I certainly found in my own classroom that I think people assume and I suspect Professor Maher that you witnessed the same phenomenon that the person who talks the most may think that he or she knows the most, and that is rarely true. And the quieter students would sometimes come and say I just feel like I'm so lost because so and so seems to know all the answers. And I think students need to be encouraged even at the professional level, like no, you know, just just don't assume because someone takes up most of the oxygen that they that they have something to say. I know from my own children. I tried to do the same thing. We try to help you know, when we encourage them outside of school, when we select schools, we really put a premium on education. COVID was an interesting spirit experience in that regard, because, like so many parents across America, we wound up homeschooling. So we had mom and dad school, and we would supplement what the children were sent home with because of course, the schools were scrambling to figure out how to do an online curriculum. And actually, that was really fun. I mean, we were able to supplement with some civics education as well. We got to choose other books for our children to read. And so I think as a parent, being involved in my children's education has been an important way of encouraging them.

Professor Amar 9:03 Right. I'll share one quick story since you talked about people who yak in class and by the end of law school, I plead guilty, but when I took constitutional law, which is my passion, now it's what I do every single day. I spoke once all semester, it has began in September, it was in mid November when I was called on. It was a single sentence. It was utterly garbled and unintelligible and I was so embarrassed afterward. That was what I did in constitutional law. So, so I'm glad you're actually encouraging folks. Who, who might not actually and I thought everyone else, just what you both said, knew a lot more than I do. And I did. And so so it's so interesting work. This is unrehearsed but we're recounting somewhat similar experiences. Now. I want to move from education generally to something a little bit closer, maybe to the court, civics education in particular. Do you have thoughts about your own experiences in civics education, either as a student or a parent or a teacher or a professor,

Justice Sotomayor 10:10 That is such a big question. I'm not quite sure where to start with it. Maybe I'll start Amy with trying to define civics. Because I think that's the starting point for the talk. Okay? Most people think about civics as learning about government, how it functions and what it does, what each branch of the government does, etc. That's a basic understanding of civics that I don't think is fulsome enough because when you think about when I think about civics, it's not just how does the government work? But how does our society work. You know, government makes laws that affects people every day. Those laws affect each and every one of us. I tell kids, you're sitting in this classroom learning, because most of your states require you to go to school. It's a law. And there are so many ways in which was affect us. So we structure our society around laws. And what helps us create those laws is government. But in the end, it's all about society. It's the society we as individuals choose to build and create. And so for me, civic education, fundamentally started in the home. My mom by watched as a nurse, serve in the care of all of our neighbors, people would knock on our door I'd open it in they introduce themselves as a neighbor from a higher floor or from a building across the way, who had heard about my mother being a nurse and came asking for her advice. Without charge my mother would sometimes spend hours if not days, helping those people. I watched my grandmother every weekend cooking for people in the family and neighbors who needed food. I watched my aunt who was the poorest member of our family who struggled to make a living, who every envelope seeking financial help from a charity got a quarter of 50 cents from her dad, partly knowing those my family taught me that civics was about building community and how you participate in doing that. And so for me civics is civics education, is yes, doing the fundamentals, learn about government, learn about how it functions, but learn about your rights and responsibilities. You have to not only learn but to and that requires fundamentally thinking about your role and acting on it. reasoning, learning how to listen to others, active learning and learning how to compromise because that's what the legislative process is. About. But learning also how to see other people's views and respond to them in a respectful way. That's civics education for me. And that's what I think schools are critically important. But I also think families are you know, most of the time most of us in most in our families find ways to settle our disputes. Sometimes it's majority vote who wants to see what movie and the hands go up. Other times, our parents will say x Pisco. Last week, y gets to pick tomorrow. And Z picks the other day. There are a variety of different solutions. So every family finds them and we as a community, that responsibility to to figure out what structure we want to give for each other. So that's Civics for me. And that's what I think schools need to teach and help children develop those skills to become active participants in our society.

Justice Barrett 14:29 I like Justice Sotomayor's broader definition of civics. I do think that educating our young people to be good citizens is crucial and part of being a good citizen is learning to care for the needs for others. It's part of our family experience. It was part of my family experience growing up and it's part of my children's experiences at their schools to do service work. And I think looking outward and ways in which you can serve others. My My children have cut grass for the elderly people worked in soup kitchens and those sorts of things. And I think opening their eyes so that they're looking outside and not just inwardly at their own experiences is part of raising their awareness of the fact that they live in a community and I think shaping children's characters so that they are interested in the things that happen outside of their own narrow focus of their friend, group and school. On their own neighborhood in their own family is crucial. I'll say word a couple of words too about traditional civics in the sense of learning about the government. I'm struck by I do as I know, Justice Sotomayor does get many letters from schoolchildren. And a few months ago, I got a very lovely book that was letters. It was from a third or fourth grade class at a school and they each wrote me a letter and drew me a picture. So it was you know, 28 kids in this class. And my daughter who is 11 years old, thought and thought it was so touching she decided to respond to all the letters out halfway through she kind of got tired of it and I said, you know, you're in this far, you might as well finish. But she was responding and some of them were like, what what's your favorite color? Or you know, do you like your job? I was Washington, those sorts of things. But a lot of them asked about the court and several of them asked how I liked making law. And Juliet My daughter got very frustrated with this and she in the individual letters was was writing out. Well, that's not what the Supreme Court does. My mom doesn't make laws. And then finally she decided to write a global cover letter to the class. And she said, I know it's really confusing. People think that the Supreme Court makes laws, but that's not what the Supreme Court does. They don't make laws. That's Congress. And so she went through the whole thing. There are nine justices and there's the Constitution and they're interpreting the laws and they're not making laws. I was kind of proud of her. I thought wow, I guess our dinner table conversations are sinking in. But I think you know, I was touched that that teacher in that class took the time to have her students write to me and other teachers have done the same thing. And I think raising students consciousness from a very young age, about what the government is with the branches of government are a lot of the things that iCivics tries to do. I also think it's important for educators to focus children on their state and local governments, because I think the federal government gets a lot of attention. But students can connect in an even closer away with some of the work that's done at the state and local level. So I think that the more students are educated about how the government works, the better citizens that they can be as they participate in it growing up even on things like voting. I had a daughter who turned 18 this fall. And my my same 11 year old daughter, this daughter wasn't quite sure if she was going to vote. She would she just felt like well, I don't know if I have enough time to learn what I need to know and will I find the polling place and things like that. And my daughter, my 11 year old daughter said you have the right to vote now and you better go vote or I'll be really mad at you. She couldn't disappoint her sister. So she voted.

Justice Sotomayor I want to hire Julia to answer some of my letters.

Professor Amar 18:21 So let me pick up on a couple of those threads and give you my specific pitch. You both talked about civics more broadly, a spirit of giving a volunteerism of community mindedness. It reminds me of a very famous French person who visited America a couple 100 years ago. His name was Alexis de Tocqueville. And he talked about a spirit of voluntary associations of churches or charities of community organizations. But because he was very struck France didn't quite have that. America did and he wrote this two volume set of observations called Democracy in America. But here's another thing he said. He said, Americans have this amazing institutions called the jury in which ordinary people participate and I just wanted to mention that because it actually connects some of the threads. It's not just watching and learning about government is doing government. It's not just about your rights, but your responsibilities jury service, it can be at the local level, which was mentioned alongside the national level. It's about as Justice Sotomayor said, listening to other people and not just about working with them. Um, here's what Tocqueville said. I don't know if juries are good for the litigants for the for the parties to lawsuit. Excuse me. I do know it's good for the jurors. Juries are a free public schools ever open teaching Americans about their rights and responsibilities. Now, here's why I mentioned it because for Civics for me when I was in middle school in high school, we actually did mock juries, we we learned actually how to do government how to speak but also how to listen to each other how to how to work together collectively. And and so I'm cards on the table. I'm kind of very romantic about the jury. So a related question is because I know it's hard for lawyers and judges often to do jury service. Have either of you ever served on a jury? Has anyone in your family actually served on a jury and what if any, presided Of course, Justice Sotomayor, was a trial judge for many years, presided over a jury? What are your thoughts about juries and their connection to civics education? Again, maybe just to sort of let you kick us off.

Justice Sotomayor 20:56 I in Washington, DC, where I currently reside, judges are not exempt from jury duty. And dutifully every few years I get called to be a juror. But the lawyers start to question me and eliminate me very quickly. So I've never had the privilege of serving I have served as a trial judge and and you are right jury service does give an education in law and and helps people understand their responsibility as citizens and what an honor it is to serve. And I get a lot of people and friends who call me and say, I just got a jury notice Can you get me out of and my answer is no, I can't but I don't want to. It is one of the few responsibilities that we are asked to undertake as citizens. I tell people jokingly everybody's pays taxes, even non citizens. And even people serve in the military who are non citizens, but only citizens serve on juries. And so it's the one civic responsibility with voting that we have. And Akil, I feel very strongly as you do, that knowing about the court system is a very important way of learning about our system of governance. And so I also like mock trials, and they're enjoyable to watch as a judge with many school kids. We would put Cole Goldilocks on trial. Every child knows the Goldilocks story. And the charges against her were burglary for breaking and entering into the bears home with the intent to commit a crime. And one crime was eating the bears food and the other crime was breaking the chair. And by the end of the exercise, most of the school children would convict Goldilocks of entering with intent to steal food, because you don't have to form the intent before you go. You just have to inform the intent as you're entering. But acquit her of destroying the chair because she didn't intend to. So they're very sophisticated, very sophisticated outcome. Having said that, I do think that civic learning is about the entire functioning of government. It's about the roles that Juliet was pointing to of Congress, the President than the courts. It's appreciating what a different balance that our constitution set up between and among the branches of government. And all of those things help inform what the United States means buy democracy. Because it's not democracy. In its traditional sense. Democracy is a room full of people voting and majority wins. But we don't create laws that way. We don't function that way. We elect representatives, and those representatives in turn, make the laws. And so we're not a pure democracy in the way people think. But those differences are differences that we need to understand the citizens as as members of our community, and I do agree with you that jury service is among one of the most wonderful experiences anyone can have.

Justice Barrett 24:32 I have never had the privilege of serving on a jury and for many years, I taught evidence and law school, and I wanted to because I wanted the material for evidence, but I was never called and I have been called a couple of times since I've been a judge, but no one's ever actually taken me up on it. In fact, they've just told me not to bother coming up the judges, you know. Champ chambers will call and say Don't Don't come over. So I have not been able to serve in my husband. spent most of his career as a federal prosecutor. So he too was was never able to serve on a jury. Now we have daughters who are old enough, none has been called yet but we'll see. I think one thing educators can do about jury service I was struck Professor Maher by your you're talking about how many people tried to flee from jury service. There was an excerpt I use to begin my evidence class with maybe you know, this book. It was about the Imelda Marcos trial, and it interviewed the jurors and kind of went in to talk about was a study of the jury system, and how the most educated jurors fled. The jury because, you know, they had jobs and it would have been difficult for them to be away. And this phenomenon repeatedly, especially in complex trials, leaves juries not necessarily with a fair cross section or you know, they tend to be like heavily weighted towards the retired or unemployed and that sort of thing. And I think if we as educators as parents, as the friendly older friends of our friends, children, tuck up jury service and the privileges and describe it in the De Tocqueville terms. I think that helps create a culture in which once our children are old enough to serve, that they will think of it as a privilege. I think too often. There's a funny Tina Fey skit, where she gets called for jury service and she shows up dressed like Princess Leia. Judge. That's what she says she used to always work. And you know, I can't remember if she was in Chicago or New York when she said that she's always work in New York, and he's like, not in Chicago. You know, people try to get out of jury service and come up with creative ways to do it. But if we talk about it and teach children that it is a privilege, then I think we can make some progress and trying to change that attitude.

Professor Amar 26:53 So the next question is connected. And again, I'm going to ask you each and then I'm going to make a pitch for a certain possible answer myself. So this is a little bit more personal. How do you ask as as justices as as human beings as citizens, how do you try to model citizenship for young people, not just when you were a kid, but today in your lives? How do you try to model citizenship for the next generation? And you already

Justice Sotomayor 27:32 she's passing the buck paying job and that's the job I have. I love it. It pays me. I have responsibilities to that job and I do them. But I truly believe that the greatest model of citizenship is not the work you do for pay. But it's the work that you elect to do. For free. It's that volunteering to be a citizen and to be a good citizen. Me as a judge, I'm restricted in the political, political activities that I can do our rules of ethics don't permit us to get involved in politics or to lobby for legislative changes or do things or speak out on public issues that the larger community is looking at. And I decided when I became a judge, and particularly when I became a justice, that I could model citizenship by being a good citizen. And going out and working on civics issues. And so I belong on the board of directors of an organization that was started by another colleague, former colleague, Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice O'Connor, when she retired, realize that civic education had diminished greatly in the United States. You know, we spend five cents on civics education, as opposed to $50 on STEM education. That's a huge huge difference. And Justice O'Connor believe that some of the acrimony sort of bad will between people in power today was born from the fact that civic education had diminished in schools. And she started iCivics as a creative new way to teach civics to middle schoolers. And it was through video games. And those video games still exists, but we've expanded their reach from middle school to high school. And we have lesson plans for high school and college students. And the iCivics organization has involved itself in literacy training, in training about state and local governments. It's really expanded its reach out to children about civics and Akil, as you may know, I speak at schools all the time. And I reach out to children in so many ways, including in writing children's books, and that's my way of modeling citizenship. My most recent book just help how to build a better world. Is about civic participation. But the point is that as people, you don't have to be a justice. As people you can be yourself as long as you're finding ways to better the world. And the choice can be yours. And it can be very personal. Some people get involved in politics and in organizing voting drives and getting people out to the polls. Other people wake up. Other kids wake up in the morning of Election Day, and ask their parents did you vote today or they go to their teacher or do every adult they meet and say, Did you vote I can't vote but you should. There are such small and big ways that you can participate. You just have to have a willing heart. And so I charged myself with trying to inspire kids to have that willing heart to want to do more.

Justice Barrett 31:26 Yeah, I think pointing out all the ways in which people who do have that willing heart do it when I when I was growing up the polling place and my parents neighborhood had to close and they had to find another one and no one was stepping up and my parents opened their garage up. And so that was the polling place for our neighborhood. They volunteered and lots of the neighbors came and worked at the table. And I tried to point out those things to my children. Look at all the volunteers who it takes, you know, when when Vivian went to go vote for the first time look at all the volunteers it takes to make this happen. You know, as for what I do myself, I mean, I've been an educator for a long time and I am continuing to be an educator with my children. So I to give talks and take opportunities nowadays to do this with my children with my children's friends and my children's classrooms. You know, as a law professor, and when I was on the Court of Appeals, I had remained on the faculty at the law school at Notre Dame. I was continuing to give a lot of talks to alumni groups to students, your students at other schools. And you know, as COVID has hit, and I've, you know, had some transitions in life I haven't done as much of giving talks, but I hope to ramp that back up because I think talking to people and having them hear it from those who are participating in the institutions of government is a way to make it real to them. And I think one thing that I really love about interacting with my children's friends is we started off our conversation by talking about would you have imagined when you were in second grade that you would one day have the job that you have now No, but now when I meet my third and fourth and seventh grade and junior in high schools, you know, friends, I'm just Mrs. Barrett to them, you know, they don't they don't call me justice. And you know, many of them have known me for a long time and I think it helps make real to them that regular people and people who they know can serve in these capacities.

Justice Sotomayor 33:30 So if I might add a footnote here is free. You just have to go on the internet. You can play the games for free. I challenge every adult listening to this and every child to go and play one or more of the games. You will be surprised by how much you don't know, and how much fun it is to learn through gameplay. So I know that I challenge all of my law clerks every year to play a game. They claim they score very high, but I haven't actually looked check that

Justice Barrett 34:08 You should start doing that for clerkship interviews.

Justice Sotomayor 34:11 That's not a bad idea.

Professor Amar 34:14 I want to actually tell the audience a lot of times the justices no matter what general philosophy or perspective they have, they vote together an awful lot of the time because law is law and and people of different persuasions see it the same way, a surprising amount of the time. That said in cases that are really sharply divided. I'm not sure if we just picked two random any two random justices that they would vote together at a lower rate than you might you to actually might actually in contested cases, not always vote together on stuff. But here's the amazing thing. You're here both together at this event. I want our audience to understand how rare it is to have any time a justice. You know, we take time out of her or his schedule to do something like this because this is civics education right now. What we're talking about talking about civics is actually civics education, talking about civics education, but but you're doing it together and my pitch my shadow this thank you for that. I want to ask you, have you actually how many times have you done this? Just you two, you know, together and assuming that the rest of the interview goes pretty well. You know, my pitches, would you actually do it again, not just for this organization. I think it's really great if people if you're talking about modeling civics education, people seeing the two of you together, it's a special I've spent time with each one of you individually, but this is really special. And so have you done this before? And you know, are you willing to do it again?

Justice Barrett 36:03 It's our first but I'd be happy to do it again.

Justice Sotomayor 36:06 yes. I don't think we'd like to Justice Barrett doesn't realize that I'll I'll get her involved in something. No, Akil, maybe I will start by saying I am sure that there have been moments where every parent has said to their child, I don't like what you do. There's something that the child did that was wrong. And most children understand that the parent is not saying I don't like you. Not saying that? They do. They're saying you took an act. I disagree with that I dislike I think one of the wonders of being on the Supreme Court is my knowing that every single one of my colleagues who is equally passionate about the Constitution our system of government and getting it right as I am we may disagree on how to get there and we often do. But that doesn't mean that I look at them and say you're bad people accept that it is a difference of opinion. I'm going to work very hard to try to convince them to look at it my way and to correct they're wrong. We work hard at that. We work hard at that. But fundamentally I understand they're good people. And if you approach everyone that you have a disagreement with with that fundamental understanding. People are people. They have families they love they have children they love they have people who depend on them. They have values that are similar on so many fundamental things. And our disagreements on political issues and important constitutional issues, doesn't diminish the value of who justice Amy Barrett is in my mind or to me and so no, I would never hesitate in having more conversations with any of my colleagues, I think many know, because justice Gorsuch, who also he and I don't always agree. We do a lot of our civic outreach together. He's been here longer, and Justice Barrett came during COVID So I haven't had a chance to drag her into more, but we'll find a way to

Justice Barrett 38:36 Yes, no, I have been on the court a short time. I will echo what Justice Sotomayor said. I mean, I think that court seems like a very impersonal institution for those outside of it and they look at what the court does, and they don't see us as people, you know, they they see, you know, the results of cases with which they may agree or disagree. One of the wonderful things about working in this institution is that it's very small. It's only nine of us and so it's not even like you know, the Senate with 100 It's small, and you know, as it's often jokes, this is like a marriage. I mean, we have life tenure. So you know, we get along and that means that you're not gonna rupture relationships. You know, with people that you will be spending your career with. We have genuine affection for each other. I have genuine affection for all of my colleagues. We treat each other with respect. We shake hands when we walk in the room for a conference. We have lunch together. I think it's very important to assume the best and to see people as people to see you know, to know about their personal lives to know about their families or their interests or you know, where they went on vacation with their reading, to really see us as more than our agreements or disagreements. And I think that's something that everybody can translate. It's something I work on in my personal life as well. I mean, to always see past opinions and disagreements because people are the most important. People are really are the root. That's really what's most important. And I think we do a pretty good job of that here. And one thing I'll throw out is, you know, it's true that Justice sort of my honor, I disagree, sometimes agree, sometimes disagree. Sometimes she talks about working to persuade each other. I just want the audience to know sometimes we do. Justice Sotomayor has persuaded me We do try to work together behind the scenes and we don't go in and have our minds made up and locked in. We work together a lot and we talk and you know, we do change our minds. So

Professor Amar 40:43 since you mentioned handshaking, and America is so divided now and polarized, even issues of handshaking or or anything you know can can start to actually divide people. I never clerked, as as, as one of you did, and obviously never been on the court as both of you are, but I've been told that it's actually there's a very special way in which that handshaking occurs that every pair of justices actually sort of shakes hands. Is that true? Are there other things that the court does that could maybe be replicated rhythms or traditions or practices that maybe could work even outside the Supreme Court to try to bring Americans together more than we are today?

Justice Sotomayor 41:36 Well, handshaking is not unimportant, because it does force you to look at the person and when you shake someone's hand, if you look at their eyes, I think it brings you down to a human element. Justice Barrett also mentioned our traditional lunches. I've been somewhat absent because of COVID fears. But after every argument day, and after every conference day, the justices meet for lunch. Breaking bread has always been a way of creating family, fostering family and ensuring that we don't forget that we're dealing with each other as individuals. And often at our lunches, we don't talk business. We do talk about books we're reading about vacations that have been interesting about museums that we've seen movies about those who have children about what their kids are doing. Those moments humanize people with one another. And I do think and I often have said to many students you know, when you go to lunch, pick yourself up and go to a different table one day, go to a table of kids who are just totally different than you are. And they may laugh at you. Laughter never hurts anybody. But introduce yourself and say, you know, I've seen you here I don't know who you are. This is who I am. Hello, and sit down. They may laugh at you. They may say no, when you just pick yourself up and do it with another table. But I really do encourage people to meet each other as human beings before getting into the fray of a disagreement.

Justice Barrett 43:21 Yeah, I echo that and you know, not only do we not talk business, you're not allowed to talk about cases at lunch. That's that's a rule. So it really forces us you know, sometimes you gravitate towards wanting to talk about the things that you have in common and one thing we have in common is the cases that we're working on that week. The argument that we heard that day, but we put that aside and we talk share ourselves talk about the personal and that that can be sometimes more challenging because sometimes I won't have time to have read an interesting book. Because I've been running around to too many soccer practices and reading briefs. But it forces us to get to know each other as people and I would say that having that rule, you know, don't talk about X, you know, don't don't talk about like if you if you've gotten together with classmates or friends, why don't you just take a certain topic off the table like we won't talk about politics, this lunch. You know, sometimes in high school, there might be heated disagreements about a certain topic. Don't talk about that. Let's let's talk about books we're reading or in my family. We have this game called Table Topics. And sometimes we'll pull it out you draw a card, and then everybody goes around, it'll ask a question like, you know, if you could do X or Y what would you choose? Or if you could, you know, live on an island or you know, I don't know live in a jungle which would you pick and why or asks all kinds of silly questions. And that's kind of fun, too. It's just an icebreaker. We've done that when we've had other families over with kids. I think finding ways to see people for who they are and not just for opinions they hold helps bridge gaps and bridge differences and one other traditional throw in that we do is birthdays. So we we make a big point, the chief always makes sure that this happens when somebody's birthday, you know at the lunch that's closest to that birthday, we get together we sing Happy Birthday, we do a toast and you know we acknowledge each other as people marking the special celebrations in one's life.

Justice Sotomayor 45:27 No one wants to recording our singing. Yeah, that's pretty. That's true. Justice Barrett, all of those books that our colleagues talk about, I keep a list of it. And I have that list for it's called when I retire someday. Then I'll get to real

Professor Amar 45:50 it's so interesting that both of you mentioned meals because I think there is something about breaking bread and religious and other traditions that that there's something very important there. So So that's that now let me move from that. You know, which it sounds very happy to another interesting feature of the court so there's that the handshaking and the formality and the respect. Here's what's amazing about the court you don't actually mask disagreement. You don't hide dissent. There are other courts in the world, where, actually, that the citizenry isn't told that the court actually is not unanimous. They're not told that there's a vote they're not told who votes which way they're definitely not a treated to dissenting opinions where you not not only see the vote of someone who doesn't agree with the majority outcome, but his or her reasons and each of you has has written dissents over the years. How do you think about the courts tradition of dissents and how that that fits into your vision of the court and the country?

Justice Sotomayor 47:15 Well, it's an interesting topic, you phrase the keel because I have often wondered whether we've gone too far. individualizing opinions. It was in my prior court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which was the intermediate federal court for Connecticut, Vermont and New York majority opinions were collaborative efforts. We even argued about words. And we would compromise because we thought that the majority opinion was the opinion of the court. And so a dissenter would always speak in their own voice, but the majority opinion would be a collaborative effort between or among the two or three judges who agreed to it. That's not quite how the Supreme Court does it. Opinions get signed by the individual justice and we don't have as much of a ethos of crafting the opinions together. Other countries do. You just mentioned many countries don't permit dissenting opinions to be published. Even in some countries. Where they do permit dissenting opinions, they won't identify who wrote the majority of who wrote the dissent. And I think there might be some value to that, because it forces you not to look at the individual, but to look at the court and what the court is saying and what a different view of the issue is looking at. And so I don't I think we're too far gone as a nation in this. For us to really be thinking of changing it in such a fundamental way as to do away with the sense because the sense have a value and the value is in presenting the other side. And for those issues where Congress or the people can make changes if they don't like our decision, they have a right to think of the other arguments and to decide whether they want to make those changes or not. So I think they have a value that we can't take away or shouldn't think about taking away.

Justice Barrett 49:52 Well and the court has a while as you well know, Professor environment. The court has done different things over time from in the beginning, each, you know, having seriatim opinions where there wasn't an opinion for the court until John Marshall started that practice. And you know, it was not uncommon over the courts history for someone to simply record their dissent, but not write an opinion. explaining it and our practice now is to be you know, have an opinion for the court where there's a lot of deference given to the author. You know, we don't really make stylistic type changes lots of difference to the author's choice of words. But you know, lots of concurrences lots of separate opinions, you know, and dissenting opinions and and I think, like Justice Sotomayor, that it's good for people to see what the other side is. I mean, I think it would be a little bit of a cop out to simply say, Justice Barrett dissents without any explanation for why. So I think it's good for the citizenry to have more knowledge and to see if I if I really feel strongly enough that I think something has gone awry to say so. I think that for me, as you know, when I was on the Court of Appeals, I served in the Seventh Circuit, which is Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Then and Now on the Supreme Court. I think, for me, it's about tone. I think dissenting opinions and concurring opinions can serve a very valuable function in educating the law students who read them, you know, Justice Scalia, for whom I clerked, was an excellent writer, and his dissents would make it into the case books. And they would be a way of teaching students teaching law students, you know, when they could see, you know, each side of an issue, teaching them how to think about constitutional law. So I think, separate opinions and dissents can serve that function of education. Sometimes, people hope their dissents will become majorities and so that they plant seeds, but for me, it's about tone because I think one of the important things about the court is that it is a collegial institution. And I think, showing how we can disagree on the issues and on the merits without being nasty is one of the roots to the way that we do our business. And so to the extent that we can, you know, maintain a tone that's really talking about the issues and having it be on the merits, which is our practice. You know, I think that in itself shows it has an educative function about civics.

Professor Amar 52:20 We're coming close to the end of our allotted time. Alas, but so I just wanted to talk about some very small little topics and get your your general ideas on small little things like democracy and the rule of law. And and what these what these things actually mean to you and why people should care about them. What are they and are they intention with each other? How how do we preserve them if you think they're worth preserving? What's the essence of democracy? What what does it mean, the rule of law?

Justice Sotomayor 53:08 Another huge question you've asked. Let me see if I can place it in a structure for me to be able to answer it. Okay. I started my conversation in defining civics as something broader than just the rules of government. So rules of community. That's what democracy is about. It's people working together to live together. I do think that for me, democracy means an informed group of people because without being informed, you really can't know how to shape how to live with others. And so, civic education is critical to me in maintaining our democracy, because an uneducated citizenry is not going to respect the marvel of what our government is. It scares me when I read some of the recent polls. One poll said that 18% of Americans agreed with the sense sentiment that arming rule was a good thing. We are the longest lasting constitutional democracy in history, and for 18% of Americans to say that is frightening when you have 43% of Americans say that the Constitution is irrelevant today. That does provide a stab to my heart. That 24% of Americans can't name one right secured by the Constitution. Well, how are we going to maintain Are you union and make it more perfect if people aren't educated? And that education, as I stated before, is not just the learning but it's the doing. But it's also today, critically important that we have media literacy, not tech savvy. Most young people know how to operate computers. But most people are not paying attention to becoming media literate. is said that 73% of the tweets that go out, are filled with fake information. And that more than half of young people admit that tweets they pass on contain falsehoods. Why we are not teaching media literacy as part of civic education. I don't really understand what those statistics there is a refrain that I've heard. Stop, think check before you form an opinion based on media, check it. Check that it's truthful. Learn how to do that. Learn how to do that in school, learn how to do it in your libraries, figure out how to ensure that you're well informed before you make decisions. But for me in the end, our democracy won't last unless the people who are in it. Respect what the value of what we have and understand their responsibility and maintaining it. And so to your big topic, Akil. It is the foundation not just of my work, but of my life. And its importance and it should be to every student, every teacher, and every one who really cares about being an American because it is what has defined us for two over 233 years. And so it's my hope that whatever we said today will inspire others to understand how important it is.

Justice Barrett 57:21 I just had two thoughts to adjust the sound of my auras said and the first is in addition to media literacy, I think it's important for educators to teach critical thinking. And that can happen outside the context of just talking about politics or media. I think when educators are teaching children about ideas or to read books, challenging them to take apart the argument What did you agree with what are the weaknesses so that they have critical thinking skills so that then as adults, they're equipped to evaluate and criticize things that they're given to be able to decide for themselves whether it makes sense and hangs together or not. And the other brief thing that I'll add is about the rule of law. I think that the Constitution has lasted because people have recognized its importance, but I think people have to know about the Constitution and see the importance of the rule of law. I had a student from a South American country who was talking about how the leader who was in power was really more of a dictator had given put in new roads. And he had no authority to do this under their constitution, but nobody cared because they were really happy because they had gotten these repaired roads. And so everybody just overlooked, that he had completely acted way outside of his lane. Because they were happy about the roads. Well, he said I don't think that would really go over here like people, people wouldn't be very happy, even about the roads. And I think that's the rule of law people being committed to and understanding. You know, that's fine. We're happy about the roads, but it's important to observe the rules so that institutions stay within the power that they're given. And I think understanding how the constant constitution works and how the rule of law functions helps people stick to that.

Justice Sotomayor 59:09 Now, I will say to you, that one of the things that I know disappoints people in law is that people think of law as a choice between moral right and wrong. Right. And that's not what law is. Law is not religion. Religion is about morality. The things you do because they are the right things to do. The law sets out parameters of our behavior, based on what we as a society have decided, is the best way for us to function together. But the law is not always black and white. That's what frustrates a lot of people. You know, the Constitution talks about unreasonable search and seizures. It doesn't define what unreasonable it is. And so that's what we have cases during our history, which sort of sets out the parameters of answers. And each generation and especially each generation of judges, looks at new technology looks at what's happening in the society, and see how that sees how that fits into what that term unreasonable means. But it can sometimes frustrate people.

Justice Barrett 1:00:26 As a first year law students first year law students become very frustrated that they're not clear answers.

Justice Sotomayor 1:00:31 If I could leave our audience with one suggestion. And it's true. In virtually every audience that I speak to. I will always ask how many of you, including lawyers in the audience, have in the last five years read a Supreme Court decision from beginning to end? And most questions, not a lot of hands go up. I challenged everyone to take one Supreme Court decision they disagreed with or agreed with and read it from beginning to end and you will see how complex the thinking is. There are no black and white answers that are so clear that people are going to agree in the majority all of the time. There are two sides to every presentation. And it is important that before you choose a side or endorse OSI that you've actually sat down and thought about it completely, wholeheartedly agree.

Professor Amar 1:01:41 So let me just pick up on three quick things and we've come to the end of our time. Since I just can't resist since one of my favorite amendments that I love them all but the Fourth Amendment was invoked and the idea of unreasonable searches and seizures, just reminding folks that at the founding, especially judges played an important role but juries did as well in defining what was reasonable or unreasonable in this community, or that one and they still do play a role under the watchful supervision and guidance of a thoughtful federal trial judge and but but just couldn't resist putting in one last plug for for the jury and their role in governance, but But I began our conversation by talking about how I honestly consider myself a friend of each of yours and a friend of the court. And I just want our audience to understand just how extraordinary This is. This is the first time apparently you've told me that you too, as justices have I've done an event together live event together, the third female justice in the history of the United States and the fifth, female justice and in the history of the United States getting together for the first time I am and I just want to say this was great. We are so grateful to you. And we hope we very much hope that you will do this again and again and again. Because I think it's been a wonderful experience. And I'm very, very grateful to you both on behalf of of our audience.

Justice Barrett 1:03:22 Thank you for moderating.

Justice Sotomayor 1:03:24 Thank you and say hello to your daughters again.