An Unexpected Start to the Sotomayor Hearings
The parties’ senior representatives on the Senate Judiciary Committee have just finished their opening statements in Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) mounted a defense of the nominee seemingly focused on the Ricci case -- the ruling on which observers expected the Republicans to base their attack. But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) bucked those expectations, executing an offensive of a much wider range.
Leahy did spend a huge chunk of his speech rehearsing Sotomayor’s inspiring life story. But the bottom line of his defense of the nominee came about here: “She is a judge in which all Americans can have confidence. She has been a judge for all Americans. She will be a justice for all Americans.” And a little later: “She understands it's not one law for one race or another. There's not one law for one color or another. There is not one law for rich and a different one for poor. There's only one law.”
This likely reflected a calculation that the GOP would focus its attacks on Sotomayor’s ruling in the now-famous New Haven firefighters discrimination case. But while Sessions, the panel’s ranking member, spent a long time discoursing on Ricci, he also threw the kitchen sink at the nominee, implying that she fits into a disturbing jurisprudential trend marked by rulings such as that which ordered the removal of “under God” from the pledge of allegiance and that which cited the United Nations in limiting a state’s death penalty law.
Well. Even after quoting the “wise Latina” line, I don’t think Sessions made the case that Sotomayor represents quite all that. He is attempting to taint her by association -- with unpopular rulings from lefty judges and with President Obama’s “empathy standard.” That’s never as convincing as actual taint.
| July 13, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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