Justice Sotomayor has left the building - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 24, 2021
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Justice Sotomayor has left the building

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Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sotomayor, right, walks through the Ted Stevens International Airport this morning on her way to her flight leaving Alaska.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sotomayor, right, walks through the Ted Stevens International Airport this morning on her way to her flight leaving Alaska. Steve Strait photo

POWERFUL, PROTECTED PUBLIC SERVANTS

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor arrived in Alaska earlier last week. She gave some speeches, met with some attorneys, had some rainy vacation time, and then left early this morning on a flight out of Anchorage.

Citizen journalist Steve Strait of Strait Media spotted her at the Ted Stevens International Airport, where she was  being watched over by three federal agents. Strait snapped the photo above before being told by one of her agents, (the one directly behind her), “No more pictures.”

Strait had remained at a distance and had not approached the Supreme Court justice, but took the warning to heart and put away his camera phone.

Being told by a federal employee that a person cannot take a photo of a federal employee who is on public property (an airport) is not just odd — it’s illegal.

The agent gave no rationale for why a citizen could not take a photo of a judge who happened to be traveling through an open airport.

While Sotomayor visited Alaska as part of her “bucket list” of traveling to all of the states, she had an entourage of several Secret Service agents with her most of the time. They were seen scanning the crowd at the Dena’ina Center, where she spoke to the Alaska Bar Association and others. She also spoke at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Social media has very few photos of her trip to Alaska, indicting that audiences may have been instructed the same way: “No photos.”

Sotomayor was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. During her remarks this week, she noted that although the Supreme Court is accused of being more politicized, it is simply a function of being asked to judge increasingly complicated questions in a rapidly changing society.

One of those complicated questions might be: When is it illegal to take a photo on taxpayer-funded property that is used by tens of thousands of people every day?

Read about one of Sotomayor’s most recent dissenting opinions here.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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