Associate Justices of the Supreme Court Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said they are concerned the court’s legitimacy could be undermined if it is viewed as politically divided.
What did they say?
"We don't have an army, we don't have any money, the only way we get people to do what we say that they should do is because people respect us and respect our fairness," Kagan said in an NJ.com report.
"Part of the court's legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country now. In other words, people thinking of the court as not politically divided in the same way, as not an extension of politics, but instead somehow above the fray," she also said.
The two Princeton graduates made their comments Friday during a “She Roars” women’s conference Friday at their alma mater. They avoided saying anything about the contentious atmosphere surrounding Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor said the "politicization of the court” comes from politicians debating the interpretation of the Constitution.
"Politicians have now superimposed that style on the Court," she said. "That has hurt the Court and may continue to."
Kagan, the first female dean of Harvard Law School, said the relationships between the justices is supportive: “We always know everyone is acting in good faith. We have lunch all the time and talk about our families. We laugh at each other’s bad jokes. And we get to escape each other in the summers.”
Neither justice waded into the debate surrounding sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. But they addressed challenges they have faced as women.
"You can't be a professional woman, even today, whether it's in law, in medicine, in any field, without having a moment where someone is going to treat you differently because you're a woman," Sotomayor said.
Kagan said she remembers the pictures of the former deans, all of them male and white, that were displayed in her predecessor’s office when she arrived.
“The first thing I did was take that picture down,” she said.