Book Says Supreme Court Gig Crashed Sonia Sotomayor's Personal Life

First Hispanic Supreme Court justice knew her life would change, and it sure has, book says.

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(Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)

A new book by sitting federal judge Frederic Block pulls back the curtain on some of the most high-profile crimes and judges of our time, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a close friend of Block's.

In Disrobed, an advance copy of which was obtained by Whispers, Block reveals that when Sotomayor first heard she might be nominated to the Supreme Court, she voiced "misgivings" about doing it.

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"She was happy with her lifestyle. As a single woman, she enjoyed dating and taking her salsa lessons," he writes.

But Sotomayor accepted, telling Block that the "pressure from the Hispanic community was too great" to say no. When Sotomayor was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, she became the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

A request for comment from Sotomayor's press office on Disrobed was not immediately returned.

As Sotomayor expected, her life did change. Block writes that after her first year on the court, she told him "her social life had crashed. The dance lessons had stopped... She had to deal with her celebrity, which she said took up about 40 percent of her time." According to Block, she also felt it would take "a few years" to catch up to her colleagues on the court, especially on First Amendment jurisprudence, and would "bury herself in her office or home" for hours at a time to study.

(On Tuesday, the Washington Business Journal reported that Sotomayor at last bought property in Washington—a condo on U Street—saying the job didn't give her time to look for a home until now.)

Despite her chaotic schedule, Block also reveals Sotomayor to be thoughtful and kind. He writes that he once mentioned to Sotomayor that his Puerto Rican doorman Carlos Valentin cried when she got the nomination; Sotomayer later sent Block a 5x7 photo of herself in her Supreme Court robes with a signed note to Valentin on it.

Read more about Sotomayor and the inside life of federal judges in Disrobed, which is out today.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.