Social Issues Dominate Sotomayor Hearings
By Ben Pershing
During the 2008 presidential campaign, so-called "social issues" were mostly overshadowed by economic ones. That trend has continued this year, as debates over abortion and gay rights have taken a back seat to the financial crisis, health care, climate change, Iraq and Afghanistan. But for at least one day in one place -- yesterday in Hart 216 -- social issues were what mattered most.
On the third day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Sonia Sotomayor was grilled on the full menu of hot-button topics -- abortion, gun rights, and gay rights. As expected, she did not provide many specific responses. The Los Angeles Times says Sotomayor "sidestepped" those tough questions, "leaving both conservative and liberal activists troubled." Indeed, Matthew Franck complains from the right that Sotomayor is "either woefully ignorant of the state of constitutional law [on abortion] ... or she knows it perfectly well but does not want to lay it out in public view." From the left, the Center for Reproductive Rights laments that Sotomayor has "largely stuck to the script" and avoided asserting that women have a fundamental right to abortion. The Washington Post notes that "by midafternoon, even two Democrats on the panel sounded frustrated by her long, elusive replies." Haven't these people ever watched a confirmation hearing before?
The menu for Day 4 of Sotomayor: A dozen more senators will conduct their second round of questioning for the nominee, and presumably none of them will try to stump her with a Perry Mason question. Then comes a long slate of witnesses testifying for and against the nominee, headlined by Frank Ricci of the New Haven Fire Department. More worrying, particularly since David Cone is scheduled to testify on her behalf, is the news that Sotomayor may have exaggerated her love of baseball. This is a true scandal.
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July 16, 2009; 8:21 AM ET
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