NEW YORK — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said she wants to be called just ‘‘Sonia from the Bronx.’’
On Sunday, the first Hispanic justice on the nation’s highest court explained why, saying ‘‘you can’t come from the world I grew up in, the South Bronx, without feeling the frenzy of exile, constantly.’’
She spoke at Cooper Union, a private college in Manhattan’s East Village where Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech against slavery.
The justice said she wasn’t ‘‘doing press’’ on an evening in her hometown that ended with hugs from some audience members who asked her to sign their copies of her memoir, ‘‘My Beloved World.’’
She spoke on the closing night of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York City, which included her conversation with scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.
This year’s festival has focused on looking at the idea of bravery in art and politics.
The judge’s speech came as she and fellow Supreme Court justices are considering three issues dividing the nation: affirmative action, voting rights, and gay marriage.
Sotomayor was careful not to reveal her personal opinions, though she conceded that ‘‘it is impossible for a homosexual couple today not to be affected by the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases in some way,’’ adding to laughter, ‘‘just so you’re all clear, I’m not predicting anything.’’
However, she said, 2013 is likely to be ‘‘a turning point for those whose lives will be changed, for better or for worse, by those rulings.’’
Sotomayor said she needs to keep returning to the Bronx, ‘‘to the essence of my world, with love, to take strength from.’’