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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.

By Stephen Stromberg  | July 13, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Next: Sotomayor Hearings: Sen. Sessions, Meet Sen. Hatch


I think it is wonderful that the GOP has picked as its chief attacker/spokesman an old white man from the deep South.
What more plays into the hands of the progressive/Democratic movement than this?

Posted by: hfmd | July 13, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Pat Leahy is one of the most uninspiring speakers I have ever had the misfortune to listen to. The anesthetic properties of his orations should be studied in medical schools across the land.

On the other hand, listen to Arlen Specter during a root canal procedure would serve no good purpose. The man's excessive self-regard comes through with every pretentious word and grates on the nerves. Perhaps we could beam his collected speeches to bin Laden's satellite phone.

As for Sonia, I like her.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | July 13, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

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