The United States Law Week

Sotomayor Says She and Gorsuch Agree to ‘Disagree Agreeably’

Feb. 14, 2019, 10:49 PM

Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed to her chummy relationship with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch as proof that the U.S. Supreme Court can be an example of how to “disagree agreeably.”

Sotomayor, who was nominated by Barack Obama, and Gorsuch, who was Donald Trump’s first high court appointment, sit next to each other at oral arguments.

Observers note how the two are constantly laughing on the bench together, Sotomayor said at a Library of Congress event honoring Supreme Court Fellows.

“We’ve already disagreed a lot,” Sotomayor said, noting that “he’s a lovely person” and that they’ve agreed to “disagree agreeably.”

Their friendliness has drawn more attention than it might otherwise since conservatives fortified the majority on the court with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh last fall.

But friendships across ideological divides aren’t unheard of on the high court. Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were famous friends. She referred to him as her “best buddy” after he died in 2016.

Gorsuch and Sotomayor have also appeared on television together to promote iCivics, an organization founded by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to develop new ways for kids to learn about civics.

It doesn’t matter that Gorsuch, a conservative, doesn’t vote with her, she said. Although one day she hopes to bring him over to the liberal side, she said to laughter.

Shortly after appearing on television together, the two teamed up in a dissent from the court’s refusal to hear a criminal case about the right to confront accusers. The two also have joined on other criminal justices issues.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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