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Students react to conversation with Justice Sotomayor

| Thursday, September 3, 2015

Braving this week’s heat wave, hundreds of students waited in a line that wrapped around the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) last night, hoping to be one of the few students who would secure a seat at an event featuring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when general admission tickets were released at 6 p.m.

“We heard the line was going to be out the door by 3 p.m.,” junior Leah Billion said.

Though perhaps slightly exaggerated, the prediction warranted some merit; junior John McCready said that by the time he arrived at 4:30 p.m. there were nearly 50 people in front of him in line.

Sophomore Emmy Schoenbauer was the last person in the general admission line who was able to get a ticket.

Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, converses with NBC news  correspondent, Anne Thompson, on Wednesday night in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.Caitlyn Jordan

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, left, converses with NBC news correspondent Anne Thompson, a member of the Notre Dame class of 1979, on Wednesday night in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

“We booked it over here … we got here at 5:15 or so, but we didn’t get tickets until 6:45,” she said. “There were more people behind me than there were in front of me. The line was all the way outside. There were hundreds, hundreds of people.”

Those who were unable to get tickets in the Leighton Concert Hall, where Sotomayor spoke, had the opportunity to watch the event live streamed in the lobby and in Decio Theatre.

Sophomore Cameron Engel, one of those who watched the event from the overflow area, said Sotomayor came out before the program and began to address the people unable to get seats.

“She’s very open and very kind,” Engel said. “I liked the way she came up to us. … She came up to the overflow and shook peoples’ hands, and that’s just not normal for a speaker. Especially one of her importance, I would say.”

Other students echoed this sentiment; Billion said she found herself impressed by Sotomayor’s ability to relate to her audience.

“Everyone in the room feels as if she’s speaking directly to them,” she said. “Her speaking style and what she has to say is very intimate, but also universal, so it feels like she connects with everyone on a very personal level even when she’s speaking to a crowd of so many people.”

Senior Elizabeth Anthony said she had not been particularly familiar with Sotomayor prior to going to the event, but she found great insight in what the Justice had to say.

“I thought she was very articulate and gave really good advice,” she said. “I was really impressed just by how personable she was and how honest she was. I think my favorite part was her discussion of how personal views play into decisions and how it really is about the law, and I thought that was really awesome.”

After barely getting her ticket, Schoenbauer said the experience was “incredible.”

“The way that she articulated things that I had thought before and things that I knew I wanted to hear from somebody in the Supreme Court but that I had never heard somebody say before, she articulated that very well,” she said.

While junior Rachel Ganson said she enjoyed what Sotomayor talked about, she stressed more broadly the importance of taking advantage of opportunities like this one on campus.

“I just think it’s a really awesome experience for undergraduate students — even if you aren’t interested in law — to come hear someone as prestigious and influential as a Supreme Court Justice,” Ganson said. “I think no matter what your political views are, it’s really insightful to get to speak to someone and to hear what they have to say. And not hear it through various media sources, but to hear it from her directly.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

Contact Margaret