Sonia Sotomayor Describes Waiting for Obama’s Call on Day of Selection

This year Justice Sonia Sotomayor spent her Memorial Day waiting for a call that seemed like it would never come. She spoke to C-Span about that day for a series they’re doing on the Supreme Court, and said it was a stressful experience.

She got to work early that holiday morning because she’d been told by staff that the President was going to call to offer her the Supreme Court Nomination that day. Members of her family had already been called by the White House with instructions to head to Washington D.C. for a big announcement taking place the next day. But by the time her family was on the way to the airport, and work on her speech accepting Obama's nomination had already begun, she still hadn’t been offered the job.

"Finally, at about 5:00 p.m., they're at the airports and they're still calling asking me whether they should get on the planes, and my response was 'I still don't know. If they haven't pulled you back, I guess you should.'"

By 7 p.m., Sotomayor took matters into her own hands.

"I call the White House and say, 'Well you're getting my family to Washington, have any of you given any thought about how I'm going to get there?" Sotomayor recalled.
"And they stopped and said, 'Oh I guess we should figure that out, shouldn't we?' Literally, that was the response. What I was told was that the president had gotten distracted with some important other business that was going on at the time, and that he would call me at about 8 p.m. but that I should go home and pack to come to Washington, and that they would prefer that I didn't take a plane."

POTUS was dealing with his Memorial Day appearances and North Korea's decision to detonate a nuclear device, but Sotomayor finally got the call at 8:10 pm.

"I actually stood by my balcony doors, and I had my cellphone in my right hand and I had my left hand over my chest trying to calm my beating heart, literally," Sotomayor said. "And the president got on the phone and said to me, 'Judge, I would like to announce you as my selection to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.'

"And I said to him—I caught my breath and started to cry and said, 'Thank you, Mr. President.' That was what the moment was like." We cried right along with her.