Professor Berger Speaks about Justice Sotomayor

Professor Emerita Linda Berger delivered a lecture at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University on March 25, 2021, entitled “Justice Sotomayor’s Rhetoric of Settings;” a recording of the event is now available on the College of Law’s YouTube channel. The event was the inaugural Judy Stinson Lecture—an annual event named after Judy Stinson, who taught legal writing at ASU for 27 years and served in a variety of administrative capacities at ASU, including as the Director of ASU Law’s Legal Method & Writing Program.

The lecture abstract explains the topic: “Like stories, arguments live in settings described by time and place. In a series of recent opinions, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has crafted lasting images of the settings for issues before the Court, images that stand in for the argument at the heart of the matter. If we think of the art of rhetoric as the ability to “capture in opportune moments that which is appropriate and attempt to suggest that which is possible,” we hope for opportunity and possibility to coincide. But in the real world, we know that finding the opportunity to pursue the possibility may come months or years in the future—or it may already be in the past. Despite an apparent shortage of opportune moments, Justice Sotomayor has developed a sense of timing that affects the reader’s understanding of the setting in which a particular issue arises. By doing so, she brings closer the eventual meeting of opportunity and possibility.”