Sonia Sotomayor Compares and Contrasts Life on the Supreme Court and Life in New York

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Photo: Cliff Owen/Corbis

To celebrate the publication of her new memoir, My Beloved World, the New York Times sat down for a fun chat with Bronxite and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who confirmed some things everybody already knew. First of all, the take-out situation in D.C. is terrible. "I go to New York, I order food, it’s at my door in 10 to 15 minutes. O.K.?" she said. But in our nation's capital "there isn’t a place I call where it doesn’t take 45 minutes." And the wait is even longer when you're a member of the judicial branch: "They’ve got to stop at security, security has to call you, you’ve got to go downstairs. By the time you get downstairs you may add another 15 minutes to the 45 minutes. And the food is ice-cold."

Secondly, the SCOTUS is stocked with big, competitive personalities who rely on self-referential humor to just barely cloak their aggressive feelings toward one another — just like in New York! Here's Sotomayor's recollection of a conversation with ideological opposite and Queens native Antonin Scalia during the pair's getting-to-know-you phase:

"One day Nino looked at me and said: 'You’re a real New Yorker. I love you. You take as well you give.' And I understood. You know, we’re just out there and up front and fun."

Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were also born and raised in the city (in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively.) "I dare say Elena has a little bit of that" aforementioned up-frontness, Sotomayor added. Ginsburg is "more reserved," because she is the toughest one of all and knows that it's occasionally more effective to keep quiet while everyone else loudmouths themselves into a hole. The interview didn't include Sotomayor's take on any of the Court's five non-New Yorkers, because those people don't really matter.