The United States Supreme Court remains the shadowiest branch of the federal government, what with the robes, no video recording of proceedings, and the general air of apparent disinterested sequestration from the rest of us ding-dongs that the nine justices traditionally observe. (Minus the occasional red-faced public pledge to make his political enemies pay for daring to ask about a respected woman’s credible claim of sexual assault against him.) So it was refreshing to see Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Tuesday, since not only is the Bronx-born Justice’s no-nonsense but reassuringly sober demeanor a balm to those worried about the direction of the increasingly conservative-leaning court, but also because Sotomayor was willing to lift the merest corner of Supreme Court secrecy for Meyers while she promoted her new children’s book, Just Ask.
Like, the merest corner, as in answering the curious Meyers’ question about just what the nine ideologically diverse Justices actually talk about when they eat lunch together after a hard day’s constitutional debate. Movies, it turns out, although Sotomayor was scrupulously un-forthcoming about, say, any best Batman or Last Jedi debates that may or may not have gone on. (Or what, if any, ribbing Supreme Court Justices whip out when one of their number is the subject of a flattering or decidedly unflattering biopic.) For political junkie Meyers, having Sotomayor there was clearly a mixed delight, as he acknowledged that his guest was unable to tell him the stuff her really wanted to know about. (Just to pick one hypothetical example, how the three current female Justices feel about having to play nice with newest colleague, Justice Rapey McBeer-Pong, or long-serving Justice Workplace Sex Creep.) Or how the Court’s intended purpose of dispassionate, nonpartisan legal interpretation has, let’s call it, drifted in recent years of increased politicization and blatant Republican manipulation. Meyers also admitted he was “too stupid to trick” his esteemed guest into revealing anything juicy, which is—no offense—probably accurate.
Still, Sotomayor did give out some of the news that fans of Supreme Court sanity hunger for, telling Meyers that her friend Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is hanging tough after yet another republic-shaking health scare. “She’s a wonderful colleague to have,” began Sotomayor, to applause from Meyers’ audience, going on to praise Ginsburg as “an amazing, brave woman—and strong.” Sotomayor also revealed that her nickname for the seemingly indestructable Ginsburg is the perfect old-timey baseball moniker “The Steel Magnolia,” since she’s “delicate on the outside, but she has an iron rod behind it.”