Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor's Demeanor During the Hearings

The Washington Post is running an article entitled, "Warming the Room with a Confident Touch." The article states, "Senators hammered Sotomayor for that ('wise Latina') remark all day, but she took no umbrage at any of the questioning. When Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the panel, was grilling her for a decision and suggested she could have voted along with one of her fellow judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, "himself of Puerto Rican ancestry," several of Sotomayor's friends and colleagues behind her grimaced in exasperation. The judge's face betrayed no change in her expression of active listening."

According to the article, Senator Diane Feinstein, one of two women on the committee said, "This nominee, I think, has been very straightforward...She has not used catchy phrases. She has answered the questions directly the best she could. And to me, that gets points. I must say that, if there's a test for judicial temperament, you pass it with an A-plus-plus. I want you to know that, because I wanted to respond, and my adrenaline was moving along. And you have just sat there, very quietly, and responded to questions that, in their very nature, are quite provocative. So I want to congratulate you about that."

1. Why do students think that people make certain kinds of faces when they feel specific ways? Do students think that people can always control the faces they make? Why or why not?

2. When it comes to physical demeanor, what is the best way to listen to somebody else? Do students feel that they are more respected when students look at them in certain ways? Why or why not?

3. Why do students think that people shake hands with one another? Is there a difference between shaking hands and hugging? Is there a difference between shaking hands and touching somebody on the shoulder? Are there certain times when certain actions are more appropriate than others?

4. Do students think that it's worthwhile to pay attention to the physical demeanor of Judge Sotomayor? Why or why not? What can we learn from other people by paying attention to their demeanor?


  1. I am Betty from TeacherLingo. I absolutely love your questions. Recently, my husband became upset with me because he didn't like the expression on my face. I was unaware that I even had a certain look as I was speaking to him. This is a very interesting topic indeed.

  2. I know the feeling too well. My girlfriend always becomes angry with me because of my faces and I don't even know that I am making them.

  3. I find it crazy that people expect stoicism from a judge but they still want transparency. They want absolute honesty from her, but they celebrate when she has a calm, cool demeanor. I do believe that being expressive in body language is powerful and I don't see a blank, calm expression as power, but rather as weakness.

    I like when people are expressive emotionally, because it's authentic. I like the Sotomayor I saw in early interviews and conferences. The one I see on t.v. right now seems a little fake.