Patt Morrison

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the case of the stolen handshake

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54817 full

Stolen kisses I’ve heard of, but a stolen handshake?

We’ve been getting reactions from students and teachers in the audience at my Crawford Family Forum event with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, about the thrill of being in the same room and, for a few of them, being able to ask a question.

Afterward, Madame Justice not only posed for pictures with groups of students – she helped to arrange the seating for the photos! There’s a backstory to this one.

Jose Andrade is the Garfield High School teacher who brought a group of his students to hear Justice Sotomayor, and as everyone was settling in for the picture with her, he says, one of his students, Roland Garcia, did a boardinghouse reach to shake hands with her.

Afterwards, he said, he kidded Garcia, "that the Justice had intended to shake my hand but he 'stole' it by extending his hand before I could."

That’s enterprise – and that’s a student to watch! Remember that picture of an Arkansas teenager  who managed to snag a handshake from JFK at the White House? That teenager grew up to be President Bill Clinton

The teacher got his handshake, in the end. As the Justice got up and walked in front of the seats toward the aisle, he said he put out his hand. But the way he was sitting:

"Made it physically awkward for her to reach my hand with her right hand so she stopped specifically to shake my hand. My students gave me a hard time. They claim I held up the Justice just so she would shake my hand. I told them that after the initial handshake being stolen, I needed a positive ending to the story my grandchildren would be told, about the 'stolen handshake.'"

Andrade says he didn’t mean to interrupt Justice Sotomayor’s exit, but "I have enjoyed telling friends I shook hands with such a historic figure."

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