At a D.C. conference Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was welcomed onstage to the hit song Despacito – considered an ode to Puerto Rico.
This compelled her to reveal some disturbing information about her extended family in the face of Hurricane Maria.
‘As you know, the island is suffering a great tragedy right now,’ she said.
‘I have not heard from half my family yet,’ said Sotomayor, who was born in the Bronx, but whose parents were born on the island territory. ‘And so myself, personally, and the rest of my family, here in the states, are exceedingly concerned.’
‘We ask for your prayers,’ the justice added.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared at a conference in Washington on Thursday and spoke about her family on Puerto Rico, which has been ravaged by Hurricane Maria
Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right), speaking with CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson (left), said she hasn’t heard from ‘half’ of her family living on Puerto Rico
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was upbeat for the rest of the discussion, talking about how people can cut through the noxious political rhetoric and doling out hugs
Maria, which is now heading toward Turks and Caicos as a Category 3 storm, threw 30 inches of water onto some parts of Puerto Rico.
It could knock power out on the island for months.
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN Wednesday that one person was dead.
Puerto Rico’s largest airport, however, is expected to reopen tomorrow, allowing some residents to make it onto the main land.
Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court and was the third woman appointed.
She was at the Newseum Thursday as part of the Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit, which was focused on enhancing civic education among all ages.
Despite the tragedy happening on Puerto Rico, Sotomayor was upbeat, taking questions first from CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson and then from the audience, walking around the room freely and doling out hugs.
Unable to fully wade into politics because of her job on the court, Sotomayor made broader points.
‘Listen before you talk,’ she advised the audience on how to deal with today’s toxic political climate. ‘That’s what a lot of people don’t do in these heated time.’
She pointed out that on the Court, even though they may all disagree politically, she’s able to be courteous because she knows the conservatives are coming from a good place.
That being said, she told one audience member that some people are lost causes.
‘If someone is a racist within their stomach, there may be nothing you can say to change that,’ she said, alluding to the recent Charlottesville violence.
On the issue of immigration, however, she was more forgiving.
‘It’s a real issue,’ she said. ‘Why? Because some people feel at risk.’
‘If that is what is motivating them, whatever answer we find as a nation is going to have to deal with that too – it’s going to have to address it in some meaningful way that will give people some sense of greater security than what they’re feeling,’ she advised.
She said she had her ‘personal thoughts’ on immigration, which she didn’t share, but used it as an example to again make that bigger point.
‘I do know that unless you listen and are willing to understand other people’s fears, concerns, what’s motivating their reactions, you really can’t talk, because you’ll be talking past each other,’ Sotomayor said.