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Dan Balz's Take

Hearing Room Clashes Could Alter Political Environment


Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor listens to opening statements by committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (shown on video monitor) during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Updated 1:29 p.m.
By Dan Balz
Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings will play out against the backdrop of demographic changes that continue to alter the nation's politics. What drama exists this week is less the question of whether she will be confirmed than what the first Latina Supreme Court justice may contribute to those changing politics.

Though the old adage that the justices follow the election returns may still apply, grubby politics are not supposed to intrude on the dignified proceedings of the Supreme Court. But any barrier-shattering nomination brings with it broader political implications of which Democrats and Republicans are keenly aware.

President Obama's advisers said months ago he hoped to find a replacement for Justice David Souter who could both make history and lower the temperature of what have become judicial confirmations filled with partisan fireworks.

As the hearings open, he appears to have accomplished both goals. Every expectation is that the hearings will be civil. That hardly diminishes the political implications for both parties as senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee question Sotomayor this week.

Republicans have the greater burden. They must tread carefully this week, balancing their desire to use the hearings to frame a debate over legal philosophies with their concern that they do nothing to show ethnic insensitivity toward the fastest-growing minority group in the country.

Judicial conflicts of the past have been used to energize the political bases in both parties. Conservative Republicans around the country may be itching for, if not a real fight, a show of strength and a devotion to principles by their leaders in Washington. They got that Monday morning from Jeff Sessions, the new ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, who used his opening statement Monday to pointedly state his philosophical reservations about Sotomayor.

Session's reservations, shared by others in his party, include his concern over her assertion that a "wise Latina woman" would reach a better legal judgment than a white male, and disagreements over her views on affirmative action as shown in the New Haven firefighters case in which she was recently overturned by the high court. In his opening statement, Sessions framed the conservative case against Sotomayor.

Conservatives also object to the president's assertion that one of the attributes he wants in a Supreme Court justice is empathy. Does that, as some Republicans have responded, inevitably lead to a biased rendering of the law that unfairly favors one group over another?

Utah's Orrin Hatch and Arizona's Jon Kyl raised that issue Monday morning: how can a justice make sure he or she sets aside personal experiences and allegiances in interpreting the Constitution? Kyl argued that, as a Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor will be free from the restraints on any appeals court judge and was blunt in questioning whether she would be an even-handed interpreter of the law.

All of these are legitimate areas of inquiry for the Republicans. Sotomayor has been well prepped for these questions and her Democratic advocates on the Judiciary Committee began to make the case, as New York's Sen. Charles Schumer put it, that any fair reading of her record would result in the conclusion that she is in fact even-handed in her approach to the law. The size of Sotomayor's expected majority depends on how well she performs when she finally gets a chance to answer.

But in energizing the conservative base, Republicans almost certainly will face questions about whether their hearing-room strategy does damage to their efforts to appeal more broadly to Hispanics.

Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic-leaning think tank NDN, argued in an e-mail message Monday that his party has been far more deft at capitalizing on the nation's changing demographics and called the Sotomayor nomination another example of the party's recognition of the fact that America will soon be a majority-minority nation.

"If during the next few weeks the Republicans appear to be playing politics with race rather than raising legitimate issues about Sotomayor's judicial approach it could reinforce the deep impression that the Republican Party's anachronistic and intolerant approach to race and diversity is making them less capable of leading a very different and more racially diverse America of the early 21st century," he wrote.

Republicans contend that Democrats played politics with a well qualified Hispanic nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and paid no price for it. That came during President Bush's administration in the nomination of Honduran-born Miguel Estrada. Democrats in the Senate blocked the nomination, which was seen as a first step toward preparing Estrada for a possible nomination to the high court.

Instead, Republicans have seen their support among Hispanics decline during the past four years, from a high point during Bush's reelection victory to the disappointment of seeing Obama carry the Hispanic vote by roughly 2-1 over John McCain last November.

Republican strategist Greg Mueller, e-mailing from the conservatives' confirmation war room, argued that Sotomayor's philosophy is to the left of the country at large on issues of racial preferences and guns, among other issues. The danger, he said, is less for Republicans who oppose her nomination and more for Democrats from red states who support her.

Political strategist Matthew Dowd argued Monday that there is no historical evidence to suggest that Supreme Court nominations help or hurt a political party. He cites President George H.W. Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas and President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to note that there was no political gain among either African Americans or women from those nomination.

Presidents, he said, have suffered electoral losses after successful Supreme Court nomination battles. Obama, he said, should be far more worried about the unemployment rate than the confirmation hearings. "I don't think there's an upside for the Democrats or the Republicans in this. It's neutral at best for each of them politically," he said.

But he agreed with others that Republicans must show respect to Sotomayor as they begin their interrogation of her record and her views. Assuming Dowd's reading of history is correct, there's less for Democrats to gain than for Republicans to lose. Facing a demographic shift of significant proportions, their challenge this week will be to remain true to their principles and mindful of the how their party adapts to a new America.

Posted at 11:58 AM ET on Jul 13, 2009  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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I understand that the hearings carry certain questioning about serious issues and maybe mistakes that the candidate may have committed in the past, but I did not appreciate Rep. Graham's dissmissive attitude while asking those questions to Judge Sotomayor. He kept interrupting her while she was answering her questions in order to move on to another question, which was just rude. And I also did not appreciate that comment about "If this law thing doesnt work out for you, dont become a speech writer". The judge is very intelligent and articulate, the law this HAS worked out for her, she's an Appellate judge! I was pretty angry at Graham's way of asking questions and his dismissive attitude towards the judge was completely unnecessary and rude.

Posted by: d_mchavez04 | July 14, 2009 6:02 PM

"logcabin1836, Ms. Sotomayor is the obvious reverse racist. Besides, 60% of her judgments, as a district judge and appeal judge, were overturned by higher courts by now. If she worked for any private company then with such track of reverse judgments she would have been fired by now, not promoted. Why should it be different for a federal judge? Only because she is Latina, and a female, isn't it? Such approach looks biased, unfair and non professional to me."

---

Samuel Alito had 100% of his cases to reach the Supreme Court Overturned, history shows that this is not a disqualifier for a seat on the bench.

History also shows that "Empathy" is not a disqualifier for the court, as it was a trait in Justice Thomas that was applauded by Republicans during his nomination.

Back to Alito (because he invalidates so many of the not-related-to-her-actual-rulings "issues"), background and ethnicity as it relates to discrimination cases wasn't an issue during his nomination when he said "(sic) I will look back on my Italian Heritage and times when my family has been discriminated against."

Continually attacking Sotomayor on these easily invalidated talking points does nothing to help the credibility issue that the GOP finds themselves wrestling with these days.

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 14, 2009 11:34 AM

As a former public housing manager I am glad to see a Puerto Rican woman rising to the top of our national political ladder.

I encountered many Puerto Ricans who chose work over government benefits, often at their own expense, apparently because they were driven by some inner demon to not just get by, but to also get ahead.

That's a trait we can use in the USA, and the minute we stop rewarding it, we may as well resign ourselves to a declining standard of living.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | July 13, 2009 8:38 PM

On my browser it shows a big "44" in front of the column title. I am not sure why.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 13, 2009 8:31 PM

bpai99 wrote "The Southern White Christian Party currently has no non-white non-Christians in the Senate and only 1 Jewish member in the House.

I am beginning to truly wonder if the GOP will survive or be supplanted by a center-right party not so dominated by extremists and racists."

I am beginning to thank bigots like you for labeling mainstream majorities as "extremists and racists." While espousing religious and ethnic bias. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Thank you for your left wing bias. It will only pay dividends for recruiting the 50% churhgoing, 75% white, 85% Christian, 90% taxpaying voters (as well as the many non-leftist members of other races and beliefs). Whether to elect Republicans, conservative Democrats or independents.

A doctrinaire Democratic party of "wise Latinas" and her shrieking supporters rates about 25%.

Obama has been a real shock and disappointment.

You must not be thinking that George W. Bush is not running in 2012. Or not reading the news each day of Banker Boy's Buddies bailouts and bonuses.

"Betcha" Rahmbo and David aren't so stupid.

Posted by: mmmmm999999m34e56ee91099 | July 13, 2009 8:04 PM

From the WP today:
"Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic-leaning think tank NDN, argued in an e-mail message Monday that his party has been far more deft at capitalizing on the nation's changing demographics and called the Sotomayor nomination another example of the party's recognition of the fact that America will soon be a majority-minority nation.""

Senate immigration subcommittee chairman Edward Kennedy speaking in the Senate in 1965.
"First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same ... Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset ... Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia ... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think."

Sen. Kennedy concluded by saying,
"The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs." (U.S. Senate, Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization of the Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 1965. pp. 1-3.)

Good job, Ted.

Posted by: slim2 | July 13, 2009 7:44 PM

If anyone wants to oppose her in a *smart and effective* way, see this:
http://24ahead.com/how-block-sonia-sotomayors-nomination-supreme-court

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 13, 2009 4:38 PM
----------------------------------------

So, basically what you are saying is "If anyone wants to oppose her they ought to find some bit of information with which to oppose her." Gee, that's brilliant!

Posted by: joy2 | July 13, 2009 7:34 PM

Most people in this country are and will not be paying much attention to the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, just as the majority basically ignored previous hearings of Clinton and Bush II nominations. A significant majority probably cannot even name two justices on the current Surpeme court.

Pundits and journalists make too much ado about confirmation hearings. They almost always have little or no lasting political importance.

Conservative presidents, such as Bush II, will try to appoint conservative justices, just as Democratic presidents, such as Clinton, Obama, will choose liberal justices who support abortion and affirmative action. No one should be surprised by this.

All nominees in their confirmation hearings will pledge they will adhere to the "rule of law" and strive to be "impartial" in their rulings. This sounds nice, but is largely nonsense. No judge, justice, historian, journalist or anyone can truly be "objective" and "impartial." The life experiences, values, political philosophy of any judicial nominee is going to influence their rulings.

The phrase "rule of law" sounds reassuring to many, but is basically meaningless. Many politicians and presumably some in the judiciary do not respect certain laws or even sections of the Constitution, such as dealing with illegal immigrants, unlawful actions in the executive branch.

Such basic legal concepts as "equal protection" under the law and banning discrimination based on gender, ethnic background have been turned upside down by those who perceive the "rule of law" as justifying reverse discrimination in admission to colleges, hiring and promotions.

Many presidents since at least Theodore Roosevelt have violated the Constitution, in usurping powers given to the Congress, but have seldom been chastized by the federal courts. So the term "rule of law" is so vague and often successfully ignored by some presidents.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | July 13, 2009 7:01 PM

mhr614, we lost most of them when you Republicans ran your "Southern Strategy." We traded you white southern bigots in return for the coasts, urban areas, educated elites and minorities.

Suckers!

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 6:30 PM

References to the KKK always omit the fact that, as one historian has written, "the KKK was the military arm of the democratic Party." Democrats of the old South depended on racist policies to exclude blacks from the political process. Jim Crow laws were passed by Democrat legislators to keep blacks in their place. A Republican president freed the slaves and Democrats did all they could to reverse the progress that Republican Reconstruction accomplished. Democrats always want apologies for slavery- the first to apologize should be the Democrat Party itself. FDR's New Deal passed only because of the support it got from Democrat racist senators and representatives- Bilbo, Rankin, Fullbright, Irvin, Russell, Faubus, Bull Connor, Maddox, Stennis, McClellan and many more are some of the names that even clueless liberals should recognize.

Posted by: mhr614 | July 13, 2009 6:21 PM

I have to respond to the comment by jeffreed. He says he is politically incorrect to mention that ..."In each and every discussion no one wants to contemplate the coming Balkanization of this nation."

Balkanization? What in hell is he talking about? I thought this country prided itself on being the "melting pot" for the rest of the world's weary - you know, those who entered our shores for centuries. People like this poster either have a dangerous lack of historical perspective of American history, or they are a part of this insidious growth of backyard racists who inhabit cyberspace. I hope this person possesses merely a lack of insight and education, but I suspect that he/she lives off the power of his/her own illusions, despite any education he/she may have had.

Posted by: expat2MEX | July 13, 2009 6:08 PM

The Southern White Christian Party currently has no non-white non-Christians in the Senate and only 1 Jewish member in the House.

I am beginning to truly wonder if the GOP will survive or be supplanted by a center-right party not so dominated by extremists and racists.

Posted by: bpai_99 | July 13, 2009 6:05 PM

Robe2 fails to note that SS is a Puerto Rican and doesn't have much in common with mestizos - or Indians - from Mexico; most U.S. Hispanics are Mexican-American.

More tellingly, Robe2 is basically saying that old white men should go to the back of the bus. Of course, no one should be too surprised that a BHO supporter or a Democrat would engage in such racism; that's how they maintain power.

Note also that SS was for six years a member of a group that gave an award to someone *after* he'd proposed genocide:

http://24ahead.com/s/national-council-la-raza

No, really: genocide. Now she's being promoted by the Democrats for the Supreme Court.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 13, 2009 5:56 PM

What a wonderful day. I remember as a kid watching black and white footage of all those angry southerners protesting black children going to school. As a southern kid myself I thought "how can there be so many people angry about this?" Today I watch Sessions and I understand they are still out there. And their world is crumbling underneath their feet as hatred and prejudice give way at long last to one humanity on one planet with one great destiny to share. A great day indeed.

Posted by: FBGraham1 | July 13, 2009 5:55 PM

I just took a short break to look at the news, and I saw the picture of Judge Sotomayor hugging her nephew.

This is a "new" face that represents thousands, if not millons, of citizens in New York City, where I work, and in California and the western United States of America.

Every group likes to see, and emtionally feel, that one of "theirs" has made it to high office.

That is what we saw in the Chicago Park on election night for President Obama.

That is what we are seeing now for Judge
Sotomayor.

In the long run that is good for America as a nation, in my opinion.

It is time for white men with gray hair and suits to step a back in our politics. After all, they have had 233 years of dominance.

Posted by: Robe2 | July 13, 2009 5:09 PM

So, let's see: grizzled white professional pols from the KKK-loving provinces of the South versus a tested, talented Ivy - League educated Hispanic woman of intellectual vigor and meticulous judgment.

My guess is the good ole boys lose this round. And the next. And the next.

The hypocrite Palo-Republicans, by raising the battle cry of the dwindling herd of angry, self-pitying and anti-intellectual white men, are positioning themselves to retain minority status for the next half-century.

Which is a supremely good thing for the future of our nation.

Posted by: dee5 | July 13, 2009 5:04 PM

If the Republicans try to cast her as a left-wing activist who's too radical to sit on the Supreme Court, and if Democrats try to cast her as a brave, pioneering Latina woman fighting for progress against a bunch of bigoted old white men - then I'd say both sides are being completely disingenuous.

Posted by: telesonic | July 13, 2009 5:03 PM

I'm floored by this column. Why? Because it is an objective, fair, non-partisan and serious analysis of a major event, and it's been a long, long time since I've seen this sort of thing from any media outlet. Kudos to Mr. Balz for his journalistic competence. This sort of article should be emulated by anyone who professes to be a journalist: gather facts, gather opinions from different viewpoints, offer insight, let reader judge analysis.

For the most part, the Post has been a bastion of the sort journalistic objectivity that old and new media alike have abandoned. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: MMSD | July 13, 2009 4:57 PM

"No matter whether the Constitution follows the flag or not, the Supreme Court follows the election returns.
- Finley Peter Dunne"

Old enough to be an adage.

Posted by: thrh | July 13, 2009 4:49 PM

If anyone wants to oppose her in a *smart and effective* way, see this:

http://24ahead.com/how-block-sonia-sotomayors-nomination-supreme-court

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 13, 2009 4:38 PM

Every body is trying to predict the political implications of either opposing or supporting the Sotomayor nomination. They talk about the benefits that may or may not arrive from supporting this nomination or the possible fallout from opposing it. They base all of their arguments of the changing demographics of this nation. In each and every discussion no one wants to contemplate the coming Balkanization of this nation. Regions with little or no immigration or diversity will find that they have nothing in common with regions with high immigration and diversity. It may lead them to conclude that the time has come to leave this nation. At the same time, if the Hispanics form a block to dominate politics what is prevent other groups from doing the same to counteract Hispanic power. As a consequence, while no one will talk about Balkanization - it is too politically incorrect - one should always remember the unthinkable often does happen.

Posted by: jeffreed | July 13, 2009 4:37 PM

There are reasons why the Republcans find themselves in a smaller minority than we have seen for some time in American Politics. One is certainly their failure to appeal outside a shrinking population of white males. Another is surely their inability to respond to major problems with anything beyond an invocation of people's fears of large government. The Repbulicans seem to be left only with the hope that their negative politics can create enough dissatisfaction with the inevitable imperfections in any serious attempt to face our problems to peel away some of those at the edges of the Democrat's majority.

Posted by: dnjake | July 13, 2009 4:30 PM

Democrats haven't been more deft at attracting ethnic voters. All they've done is not use excessive racism to alienate non-white voters. It's enough in many circles.

Republicans seem to think that Democratic senators in "red" states could be at risk for supporting Sotomayor's nomination. Really not the case. There's a big demographic wave of Hispanic voters in every state and the states the Republicans think of as "red" are quickly shifting into the other column. Voters who might respond to a message of enterprise and liberty and turned off by Republicans' anti-immigrant hatred. Many of yesterday's economic and security conservatives are becoming today's moderates and tomorrow's Democrats.

Posted by: lartfromabove | July 13, 2009 4:29 PM

"Though the old adage that the justices follow the election returns..."

"Old adage"?

Really?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 13, 2009 4:20 PM

"And with the backdrop of AG threat to investigate and punish republicans over treatment of terrorists if they tick off President with harsh treatment of his nominee for court, we proceed."

The AG's "threat to investigate and prosecute" has nothing to do with Sotomayor; it's about violating the laws and the Constitution.

Now go grow up!

Posted by: thrh | July 13, 2009 4:14 PM

"

I'm white. If I favor a white person because of their race, isn't that racism?

So what do you call it when blacks and hispanics do it?

Posted by: enaughton27"

I'm white, too! And I favor Sotomayor because she is a brilliant jurist and extremely qualified for the job.

Posted by: thrh | July 13, 2009 4:10 PM

"drzimmern1 wrote:

Sotomayor has been given many gifts since her poverty-stricken parents arrived here. For one: Affirmative action Harvard law degree after Princeton,with plenty of money to meet her needs."

STOP THE PRESSES! Harvard Law School forgot to include her in their alumni directory. Maybe that's because she didn't go to Harvard Law School, eh, "Doctor" Zimmern1? [Mail-order doctorate?]

You should check your facts before you start ranting and raving.

Posted by: thrh | July 13, 2009 4:08 PM

This is about judicial philosophy. Saying she should be placed on the Supreme Court because she is Hispanic is the exact logic used by those who think "only people with white skin should eat in this restaurant". Sotomayor has been given many gifts since her poverty-stricken parents arrived here. For one: Affirmative action Harvard law degree after Princeton,with plenty of money to meet her needs. Do you know how many disadvantaged, highly intelligent children from other backgrounds would love those gifts and never get them? Do you realize how much help this woman has had? Enough about her background. That's not what I see in front of me--I see an expensive designer suit and a woman with a bullying attitude. "I'm wise, I'm superior". "I make policy". We don't need this just because she's Puerto Rican.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | July 13, 2009 3:56 PM

This is about judicial philosophy. Saying she should be placed on the Supreme Court because she is Hispanic is the exact logic used by those who think "only people with white skin should eat in this restaurant". Sotomayor has been given many gifts since her poverty-stricken parents arrived here. For one: Affirmative action Harvard law degree after Princeton,with plenty of money to meet her needs. Do you know how many disadvantaged, highly intelligent children from other backgrounds would love those gifts and never get them? Do you realize how much help this woman has had? Enough about her background. That's not what I see in front of me--I see an expensive designer suit and a woman with a bullying attitude. "I'm wise, I'm superior". "I make policy". We don't need this just because she's Puerto Rican.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | July 13, 2009 3:56 PM

...in other words, the battle has ended decent Americans won and the Republican nazis are on their way out. Not even Dick-Head Cheney has been seen lately looking for an non-existent exculpatory memo....I wonder why.

Posted by: analyst72 | July 13, 2009 3:55 PM

"Besides, 60% of her judgments, as a district judge and appeal judge, were overturned by higher courts by now."

This is patently untrue. The 60% figure refers to the fact that in five cases for which she wrote the majority opinion which were heard by the SCOTUS, three resulted in reversals. This does not take into account the 147 other similar cases which the SCOTUS refused to hear. Someone has been reading the Washington Times, and believing it.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 13, 2009 3:40 PM

"Justice" used to be "Blind".

Now it seems she wants to peek under that Blindfold and Pre-Judge her disposition!

Posted by: SAINT---The | July 13, 2009 3:40 PM

I'm white. If I favor a white person because of their race, isn't that racism?

So what do you call it when blacks and hispanics do it?

Posted by: enaughton27 | July 13, 2009 3:33 PM

To Deborgio: There is no such thing as complete objectivity, not anywhere, with anyone, or anything. The best you can achieve is full self-awareness and open-mindedness. This by the way, is complemented by empathy in judgment, and mercy, too. Not radical liberal ideas, ancient ideas about civilized jurisprudence advanced eloquently by Seneca many, many seasons ago. "Cultivate humanity!" he said. Indeed.

Posted by: Becks1 | July 13, 2009 3:33 PM

Doesn't matter if your a Republican, Democrat or something in the middle. When you try to find fault in a test which is neutral, because it doesn't yield the result you want you are NOT uphlding the law. I would hope that all of us would find fault in that. There are way too many HATERS on both sides of the isle now a days.
In addition, whats with all you WACKO'S still hung up on Bush/Cheney? There gone dudes! Move on and get a life!

Posted by: StJohn1 | July 13, 2009 3:32 PM

Balz's characterization of Republicans as un-empathetic maybe partially true, and that maybe partially the reason they are the minority party. As a nation and as a people we must be empathetic to the Latinos among us, and Judge Sotomayor makes history of the first representative of this minority.

Attacking Judge Sotomayor is a major minefield for the Republicans. Unless they wish to remain a minority party they better tread very very carefully. Voters and future voters are watching - as are people from all Spanish speaking nations.

Be careful where you step!

Posted by: alance | July 13, 2009 3:28 PM

You can be proud of your ethnic heritage without being a racist or a bigot.

Bottom line, America is a nation of immigrants, a melting pot, and a culture that is enriched by dozens of threads of culture from around the world. We have everything here. That's what makes us so cool.

That doesn't mean that the deck can't be stacked against you, if you're a minority. When Sonia Sotomayor went to Princeton, there was hardly anybody there like her — even though it's less than a hundred miles from where she grew up. That has to be tough. Well, she did great, and we should be as proud of her, personally, as we are of this country for the progress we have all made in the last fifty years. Who else in that room with her can even speak two languages fluently? But she can. She learned how to relate. That is a good thing.

I don't want to point fingers at all the white guys who got into Princeton, or Harvard, or Yale, back in those days, who were only there because they had family connections. It's nothing against those guys. But those schools are all is better now than they were back then, because they opened themselves up to people outside that tiny little group. And America is better now than it was then, and we are still getting better. That's what Sotomayor is a sign of. And if she likes to think of herself as a wise Latina woman and say that this gives her some special insight, well, I don't actually think that's going to hurt anyone. There are wise women of all descriptions, for sure. And she's also a well-educated American and a damn good lawyer and a good judge, with a world class brain that she knows how to use.

She is going to make it, and we are all going to be fine.

Posted by: pressF1 | July 13, 2009 3:28 PM

funny how the white and black dem posters make up so much bs about latinos...
first of all no latino is alike...
especially the boricuas(puerto ricans) and the mexicans(over 75% of the rest)...
so you see the Republicans will not lose the Latino vote because of these hearings, it's just fear mongering from the left...
btw, the only political change I want to see is Latinos replacing the black caucas after comprehensive immigration passes and the tens of millions of latinos become citizens...


Posted by: DwightCollins | July 13, 2009 3:26 PM

LATINO POWER!!!

Don't try to stop it -- we have won -- no one can dare question anything any Latino does.

This is OUR land you gringos, blacks, and asians -- don't you know what the greatest race on Earth is?! How dare anybody question anything about a Latino.

YOU WILL ACCEPT LATINOS COMING ACROSS THE BORDER, DEMANDING SERVICES, CEO POSITIONS, UNIVERSITY POSITIONS, CONGRESSIONAL POSITIONS, AND EVENTUALLY THE PRESIDENCY, AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!!!

We don't care if Asians, Europeans, Africans or anyone else has to wait in line to immigrate to the US -- we don't care if we have the lowest educational achievment, lowest language skills, highest teen birthrates, and underperform -- WE DON'T CARE -- WE ARE LATINOS!! -- if you don't accept that fact that this nation is meant to be Latino, than you are a RACIST!!

Remember, if anyone questions the right to speak Spanish, an open border for Mexico only and not Africa, Asia or anyone else, questions our RIGHT to be on TV, Universities, companies, politics etc, then we will simply destroy you and your family by labeling you racist and xenophobic.

This is it -- you are done -- we have won -- the entire world celebrates 'Lation Accomplishments' -- our Liberals will destroy any fool who dare question policy which benefits Hispanics, whether it be open borders, amnesty, affirmative action, or making Spanish the official language, not English (HA!! HA!!)

We are forever indebted to the Liberals of America who know how to shut anyone down that dare question us -- Latino gangs, Latino criminals, Lation illegal immigrants -- YOU RACIST!! Be thankful that the greatest race has come to save YOU PITIFUL Americans!!

And thank you our black brothers -- we love getting credit for your struggles, your slavery, your Jim Crow, HA HA!! -- we chose to come here as immigrants, not slaves, but everyone treats as also "OPPRESSED" !! Thank you liberals -- and sorry our black friends, we'll say we're brown around you, put don't be fooled we are white when you're not around. HA HA!!!

RECONQUISTA!! This was always our land, and now we take it -- don't question, don't try to find it, we and our liberals will destroy you and your family by calling you racist.

Sit back and relax, what's done is done -- there is no such thing as America, only LATIN AMERICA.

LATINO POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: vipermd | July 13, 2009 3:25 PM

STILL crazies out there claiming our President is not a citizen???????? How dumb are you? How much stuff do you buy from late night infomercials? How many ab flattening machines do you own? And how many male enhancment products do you routinely buy? Funny stupid little brains. And other parts to match no doubt.

Posted by: John1263 | July 13, 2009 3:24 PM

President Pbama is a very astute man. He is just giving republicons some more rope to let them hang themselves. They are tieing themselves in knots because they are pre-programmed to say no to everything, and while they are trying to trash this well qualified Latina woman they are further alienating themselves into a smaller and smaller coalition of voters, especially in key states they have taken for granted as "red" by using the white racist male vote. However, those states they are a'changin'. WE could see "blue seeping further and further into the South as the next few election cycles play out. Being the party of strom and the klan was someting the Democrats were honorable enough to abandon more than half a century ago. republicons profited for a time by playing on the worst of human nature - racism, hatred, fear, xenophobia. However, their boogeymen are fast becoming the key voting blocks for national office. This hearing is just one more nail inthe coffin of the gop. RIP the party of dubya and helms. May a new sane intellectual oppositio party rise in your place.

Posted by: John1263 | July 13, 2009 3:20 PM

The Republicans really are a pack of fools. The economy is in the tank, we've got the highest unemployment in a quarter century, vast budget deficits as far as the eye can see, financial markets that need at least some degree of reform, out of control illegal "immigration," and non-policies on energy and health care that are major challenges for the present and future -- and that's just the domestic scene. On the international front, our military is still heavily engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've got nutcases directing Iran and North Korea to world security with nuclear weapons, and emerging powers like India and China.

With all that, the Republicans decide to deride the first Hispanic nominee for the Supreme Court, despite the fact that she is at least as well qualified as Alito and Scalia (not to mention Clarence Thomas) and was nominated for her current post by a Republican president. By all accounts, she is an upright person and a more than competent judge who is regarded as generally middle of the road. She's certainly not a problematic appointee, especially not when the country is facing so many other challenges. I guess that's about all you can expect from the party of Limbaugh, Palin, Ensign, Vitter, and Sanford. Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower, and Reagan must be spinning in their graves.

Note to Republican Party: if you're truly concerned about "one party rule" and the future of this country, try picking out a few of the nation's real challenges and coming up with solutions. Hassling a Hispanic federal judge who many of your Senators have already voted to confirm is not exactly a step on the path to a political comeback. Try actual leadership for a change.

Posted by: Bob22003 | July 13, 2009 3:19 PM

The last line says Republicants need to display their principles. The problem is, they abandoned those principles many years ago, and now have none left. Their bankrupt of ideas, solutions, or answers. All that's left is the party of no.

Posted by: COLEBRACKETT | July 13, 2009 3:15 PM

I will side with the republicans, who in this case, seem more objective than the democrats. We should not have a judge who believes that true objectivity does not exist, and falls prey to human emotions that contradict logic and reason. We need these judges as close to machines as possible.

Posted by: Deborgio | July 13, 2009 3:15 PM

SCOTUS CAN'T ACT SWIFTLY TO DISMANTLE THE EXTRAJUDICIAL POLICE STATE 'TORTURE MATRIX' SPAWNED OR EXPANDED BY BUSH-CHENEY.

BUT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS CAN. AND MUST.

***

The "aware" call it "the program."

"The program" is a nationwide, federally-overseen multi-agency coordinated action...

...A SECRETIVE SECURITY / INTEL / MILITARY EXTRAJUDICIAL TARGETING AND PUNISHMENT 'TORTURE MATRIX' THAT IS DESTROYING THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS OF UNTOLD THOUSANDS OF UNJUSTLY 'TARGETED' AMERICANS.

This is an entrenched, GPS-activated high-tech American Gestapo fronted by federally-funded volunteer community police and town watch organizations. It makes a mockery of the rule of law at the grassroots -- literally holding Americans hostage in their own homes -- terrorizing, vandalizing, destroying lives, reputations and livelihoods.

This "torture matrix" also has WEAPONIZED the electromagnetic spectrum and the silent TORTURE of Americans via so-called "directed energy" microwave and laser radiation weapons. The victims have been deemed as "undesirables," "dissidents," or "social deviates" -- in other words, anyone that those in power seek to neutralize.

The mainstream media already has begun to buy into the cover-up.

The true story -- as reported by a longtime mainstream journalist and a victim of this Bush-era spawned- or expanded "torture matrix," can be found HERE:

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA: Govt't Funded Vigilante Network Terrorizes America"

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 13, 2009 3:13 PM

I say let the Republicans waste political capital on this. In the end they will lose she will be appointed and the Latin vote will be gone. Then woman will also the problem and they will be gone.

Not all but the swing voters and that is the only vote that matters. The white male swing voter is already gone.

Posted by: antonio3 | July 13, 2009 3:04 PM

Would Sotomayer schedule hearings challenging Barack Obama's forged COLB * http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/07/atlas-exclusive.html *

that he mockingly posted on his
fightthesmears' website, and;

schedule hearings on the significant Constitutional challenges to his claim to be a natural-born citizen qualifying under the US Constitution's natural-born citizen clause mandating the POTUS be a natural born citizen.

Could she vote to have the ineligible POTUS removed from the Whitehouse and replaced by the VP?

Posted by: Archarito | July 13, 2009 3:02 PM

logcabin1836, Ms. Sotomayor is the obvious reverse racist. Besides, 60% of her judgments, as a district judge and appeal judge, were overturned by higher courts by now. If she worked for any private company then with such track of reverse judgments she would have been fired by now, not promoted. Why should it be different for a federal judge? Only because she is Latina, and a female, isn't it? Such approach looks biased, unfair and non professional to me.

Posted by: aepelbaum | July 13, 2009 2:53 PM

From the GOP standpoint, the problem with Sotomayor is she's too competetent -- you can't really attack her credentials, since she's more experienced (and probably more qualified) than Roberts, Alito, Thomas, etc. That's a really serious obstacle. The war room approach has been to attack her philosophy.

In other words, open a frontal assault on her perceived biases, led by some of the most biased neoconservative members of Congress. It's like asking Sean Hannity for an objective evaluation of Barack Obama. These folks have based their careers on ideology, and are no accusing Sotomayor of being, well, ideological.

Hypocrisy, thy name is politics.

It won't work, of course. Plus they can't resort to the usual personal attacks because the Latin voters of America are watching this one.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 13, 2009 2:53 PM

As someone who is more-or-less a moderated strict constructionist, I'd be very interested in asking Ms. Sotomayor about her view on what she sees as the reasonable parameters of the federal government's ability to regulate interstate commerce as well as the limitations of government power within the economy [such as the Unconstitutional National Industrial Recovery Act of the 1930s).

I'd also be interested in getting a sense of her views on the balance between security and liberty and the appropriate Constitutional limitations on both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Finally, I'd like to see what she views as the limitations of the 14th Amendment's applicability. It seems that both Democratic and Republican administrations, legislators, and judges have erred on the side of expansionary federal government versus the states. I see this as appropriate in racial discrimination, but less so on other matters.

I think that the Republicans would be correct in bringing out the long-windedness of some of Judge Sotomayor's opinions and that the words of long opinions can be cited later on for unrelated reasons. I think they'd be unwise to take anything she has said in the non-judicial sphere and use it out of context.

Posted by: chrojo01 | July 13, 2009 2:41 PM

I was an independent voter until 1998. I had voted for Reagan and Bush Sr. thinking them the best men at the time. But the Clinton Impeachment trial soured me to the GOP. $60 million was wasted on the Whitewater investigation against the Clintons (which ultimately failed) which produced only a sexual witch hunt against Bill Clinton. The hypocricy of the likes of Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Dan Burton, Chenoweth, Baer, Vitter, Dole, McCain, Craig, Ensign, Thurmond, Sanford and all the other adulterers who sought impeachment turned me into a staunch Democrat. I will never vote for another of those "family values" "christian right" hypocrites ever again. They better be careful with Justice
Sotomayer as well.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | July 13, 2009 2:39 PM

“The civil libertarians among us would rather defend the constitution than protect our nation’s security.”

That is what the presidential oath calls for.

Besides, we see the latter as dependent on the former, and are mystified and dismayed that conservatives see a conflict between our constitution and our security.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 2:30 PM

I am a middle aged, middle class white, American born male. (Registered repub most of my life.) The only good thing Bush, Cheney, and the rest of them did while in office is expose the republican elitists for what they really are. Although two thirds of the dem’s are cut from the same mold and really no better, I swear I will never vote for a republican ever again. I can’t wait till the repub’s are all gone forever. I now feel that the republicans are an evil corrupt extremist party and the world will be a better place without them. Go Sotomayor!

Posted by: leonardpa06 | July 13, 2009 2:26 PM

REPOSTING and excellent post from another Blogger

From the mouth of Mr. Sessions:

“The civil libertarians among us would rather defend the constitution than protect our nation’s security.”

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | July 13, 2009 2:16 PM

Are you serious, Mr. Balz? You think Republicans have to be careful not to offend "ethnic sensitivities." How about me and the majority in this country? Should we be offended that this so-called judge said clearly that she can rule more intelligently than a white man and who has ruled that it is ok to discriminate against whites that scored higher that other groups on an employment exam. You and other writers need to get over your guilt feelings and support your opinions objectively.

Posted by: numbersch13 | July 13, 2009 2:12 PM

Mr. Balz;
I have already tried to point out to you that there are TWO groups of what you think are One group of "Hispanics".

Bushie had several Hispanics in his Administration, and La Raza(The Race), one of the most Racist groups around who Sotomayer is a proud Member, did not even notice them!

Por que?

Because THEY were from the Capitalist values Mexicans who were driven out of Mexico by the Socialist Values Revolutionaries!

La Raza is about the Revolutionaries, and their desire to overrun Successful Capitalist Ventures to STEAL the Wealth! To them the Practice of "Primera" is only right!

What is "Primera"? Simply put, The Race FIRST!

What does it look like?

Folks, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas;

a place developed by many White settlers, a quick review of the Saturday Newspapers that highlight the Automotive Section, and blatantly show the Auto Sales Forces;

Show ONLY HISPANIC SALESMEN AND WOMEN!

Bilingual Required my Butt! It is Primera, and REVERSE DISCRIMINATION Full Blown! What is the result?

White Flight!

La Raza WINS! The Valley, El Paso, Laredo, Corpus Christi...

One by one, Town-City-County-STATE overrun by Socialistic Parasitic Reverse Discriminating Racially Motivated Un-Assimilating Foreign Nationals with US Citizenship Rights!

Our Country is vulnerable to theft by a majority Vote!

We need to keep that Majority Loyal Americans!

Get the Invaders OUT!

La Raza needs to be busted up!

Sotomayer is the Face of La Raza!

Her Loyalties are NOT American Loyalties!

Posted by: SAINT---The | July 13, 2009 1:53 PM

And with the backdrop of AG threat to investigate and punish republicans over treatment of terrorists if they tick off President with harsh treatment of his nominee for court, we proceed. I guess the AG threat is like the bus loads of so called protesters sent to terrorize AIG executives and families. Are republicans being told to not make President angry? Will the AG threat hang out there for every occasion the President has made a poor choice and does not want any back talk.

Posted by: browncow | July 13, 2009 1:49 PM

The Republicans on the JC truly made fools of themselves today with their disrespectful and over-the-top anti-Obama/anti-Sotomayor rhetoric. The American people are watching...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 13, 2009 1:44 PM

The Republican Party's demographic isolation is the ironic and inevitable result of GOP grand strategy from the late '60s forward, the so-called "Southern Strategy" first articulated by Nixon. By focusing specifically on race - giving an organized and "legitimizing" expression to white resentments over affirmative action, fear of the mass civil rights movement, and hostility to the XYZ-Power movements of the '60s mass movements - the GOP was able to radically realign American politics for two generations, stripping the formerly "solid South" from the Democrats. But it was an inevitably time-limited strategy, the fruit of which became inescapable with Obama's election. Republican inability to frame a 21st Century grand strategy may doom them to long-term minority status. Good riddance. The shame of it is that Americans have no better alternative available to us than the Democrats.

Posted by: gwailoh2007 | July 13, 2009 1:38 PM

Let me correct myself...it says more about some of those posting comments to this article than it does about Republican oposition.

Posted by: williamolson | July 13, 2009 1:37 PM

It's about judicial philosophy, people, not about race or gender. Conservative objections to Judge Sotomayor have focused on her judicial philosophy as expressed by her remarks and her written opioions; the only people bringing up race or gender seem to be the Judge's supporters and liberal Democrats. In fact, calling Justice Thomas an "Uncle Tom", and railing against the nomination of Miguel Estrada on the grounds that he wasn't "Hispanic" enough says more about the racial prejudices of those posting comments here than it does about the Republican opposition to Ms. Sotomayor.

Posted by: williamolson | July 13, 2009 1:34 PM

sessions still thinks the kkk are a bunch of good ol white boys.people laugh at him and graham and they dont even realize it.its just talk they are truly powerless give the their few minutes on national tv. the world is watching not just the good ol boys from bama and s.c. everyone will see them as they really are .read the world papers they will be the one catchig hell tomorrow and nexr week.

Posted by: donaldtucker | July 13, 2009 1:30 PM

The United States is far down the path to becoming Estados Unidos. People need to realise we will be a Lation nation in a few generations. Better get with the program.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | July 13, 2009 1:20 PM

The GOP old-white-boy network are going to embarrass themseelves. They don't know when to shut-up.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 13, 2009 1:11 PM

Thanks to videotape the Republicans are going to have their words played back next election year in countless political ads.... Republicans Against Latino Women. The GOP tent keeps getting smaller and smaller...until only angry old Southern white males will hold membership. Good riddance!

Posted by: logcabin1836 | July 13, 2009 1:07 PM

How about the white empathy of the current SC? And the Uncle Tom and perverse sexual politics of Clarence T?

Posted by: bgreston | July 13, 2009 12:39 PM

Sessions comments come from a man rejected by this committee for extremist views. He thought the Klan was an ok group of white folk drinking beers on the weekend. Inexcusable to give such context in the wake of his "comments"...

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 13, 2009 12:31 PM

Blush: "males," not "mails."

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 12:11 PM

The Democrats have already won this battle, just by having a bunch of white southern mails square off against a Latina. It doesn't even matter who says what. Game, set & match.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 12:10 PM

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