- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor expressed concern Saturday about the lack of diverse legal and life experience among those who sit on the country’s highest court.

Both are Yale University alumni and Thomas noted that all nine Supreme Court justices attended either Yale or Harvard University. He said everyone should be concerned that the nation’s highest court has “such a strong Northeastern orientation.”

Thomas, Sotomayor and Justice Samuel Alito, also a Yale alumnus, shared the stage Saturday when they were honored at the Connecticut school’s alumni weekend. They were awarded the Yale Law School Association Award of Merit at the event. The six other Supreme Court justices all attended Harvard’s law school.

“I do think we should be concerned that virtually all of us are from two law schools,” Thomas said to an audience of Yale alumni and students. “I’m sure Harvard and Yale are happy, but I think we should be concerned about that. I think we should also be concerned that we have such a strong Northeastern orientation … But I couldn’t say that somebody who’s a colleague of mine shouldn’t be there.”

Sotomayor said the court has many lawyers from big law firms, but not as many from middle courts.

“We need diversity of not just life experience, but legal experience,” Sotomayor said.

The justices also discussed their childhood aspirations and their lives outside the courtroom.

Sotomayor said she knew she wanted to be a lawyer since she was 10. She said law appealed to her because it seemed like a dynamic field. Her work in an office as a high school student convinced her she wanted a stimulating career, Sotomayor said.

“Each of the cases that I heard from week to week was different,” she said, referring to legal cases she followed on the news. “The law gave me that opportunity to learn new things constantly.”

Asked if he was a Nebraska sports fan because his wife is from Nebraska, Thomas said: “Yes. I really, really like my wife a lot,” drawing applause and laughter from the audience.

Thomas, who has made negative remarks about Yale in the past, said he would have gotten more out of his college experience if he had had a better attitude.

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