Justice Sotomayor, at Princeton, avoids any talk of Gorsuch

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at her alma mater Princeton on Saturday on topics that touched on Hillary Clinton's loss in the presidential election, but she didn't mention President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, and the ensuing conflict in the Senate.

The event, hosted by the school's Latino Alumni organization, was aimed at celebrating the school's past and present Latino student body. Audience members were invited to ask Sotomayor anything they wanted as long as it didn't deal with current political events.

This measure, Sotomayor noted, wasn't meant to be an indication that she didn't have an opinion.

"There are judicial codes of conduct," she said. "We're not apolitical."

And while she didn't weigh in on Trump's election, she lamented a missed opportunity to break the glass ceiling by electing a woman for president.

"That's still an issue that permeates our society," she said.

Sotomayor, appointed by former President Barack Obama, graduated from Princeton in 1976. Back then, she noted, the body of Latino students was much smaller. It was then that she realized that even though she might be a member of a minority group, it was still important to work with everyone.

"To belong to the larger community is still important," she said. "We can't just talk to each other. We have to talk to everyone."

She is the third woman and the first Latina to serve on the nation's highest court. But during the nomination process, the same one that Gorsuch is undergoing, Sotomayor began to reconsider her goal to be nominated.

"Lots of negative stuff was said about me," she said. "And it hurt. I actually, seriously thought about pulling out of the process."

Gorsuch, meanwhile, is facing his own set of challenges as Senate Democrats move to block his nomination. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans are determined to confirm Gorsuch within the week as they consider changing Senate rules so he can be confirmed with a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber, instead of the 60-voter threshold.