Justice Sotomayor Calls for More Supreme Court Diversity

2 minute read

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Friday that greater diversity on the high court is important, in comments made shortly after President Barack Obama once again urged a vote on his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

“I, for one, do think there is a disadvantage from having (five) Catholics, three Jews, everyone from an Ivy League school,” Sotomayor said during a talk at Brooklyn Law School, adding that several of the justices are from New York City and none of them have a background in criminal defense law outside of white-collar crime, the Associated Press reported.

Sotomayor said varied backgrounds help justices to consider and understand issues differently, based on their experience.

“A different perspective can permit you to more fully understand the arguments that are before you and help you articulate your position in a way that everyone will understand,” she said.

Sotomayor did not mention Garland, a white man of Jewish faith who graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, but some have criticized the nominee’s selection as insufficiently diverse. Obama has defended his appointment of Garland, highlighting his experience and talent.

“Yeah, he’s a white guy, but he’s a really outstanding jurist,” Obama said on Thursday at the University of Chicago Law School, Politico reported. “I’m sorry. I mean, you know, I think that’s important.”

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com