When Sonia Sotomayor takes the bench for the first time next week, the Supreme Court will never be the same—as justice after justice tells C-Span in a rare interview program, each new member transforms the court's composition. John Roberts says that he looks at the bench "like people look at their families," and Clarence Thomas uses the same metaphor: "It changes the whole family. . . . You have to start all over. The chemistry is different."
Many of the justices note that she will be only the third woman to join the high court, and both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor mention the difficulties of finding a good feminine collar. As for the role of being the newest justice, Sam Alito says that Sotomayor will find herself in a special position: "By the time they got to me, I was either irrelevant or I was very important, depending on how the vote had come out."