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At Least One Senator Is Intellectually Honest

By Eva Rodriguez

Many of us have noted how pointed Sen. Jeff Sessions’s opening statement was at the start of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), on the other hand, was a real class act and one of the few -- if not the only -- senator to display any intellectual honesty. A conservative Republican, Graham came out of the gates by notifying Sotomayor that had a Republican been elected president she would not be sitting in the nominee's chair. He told Sotomayor that he found troubling some of her views, expressed in speeches, about the role of gender and ethnicity in judicial deliberations. About her assertion that "a wise Latina woman" would make a better decision than a white male, Graham accurately noted that if he'd said anything remotely close to that his political career would be over.

Yet he acknowledged that an analysis of Sotomayor's entire record shows her to be a judge who has the great majority of the time followed precedent and eschewed personal preferences in rendering opinions. He is the only member of the panel -- Republican or Democrat -- to have spoken thus far who appears genuinely to have an open mind about the nominee. Elections have consequences, Graham said, and presidents deserve deference to their choices. "Unless you experience a total meltdown," he said, "you will be confirmed."

By Eva Rodriguez  | July 13, 2009; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Next: Does Sotomayor Matter Politically?


Thank you Eva for drawing this to our attention. We would like to encourage Senator Graham to continue fair consideration with frankness.

Posted by: harperglenn | July 13, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, just maybe, there's at least one Republican senator who finally realizes that the attack dog won't hunt anymore.

Posted by: dewdrop2 | July 13, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Before we applaud for Senator Graham, let's remember how he got to the Senate--by being a lead attack dog in the House for Clinton's impeachment.

Posted by: blessinggirl | July 13, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Graham said that a Republican would not have nominated Sotomayor "because we all wanted Miguel Estrada who was denied a hearing by the Democrats".

A web search found Byron York of National Review Online writing a review of a 2002 confirmation hearing for Estrada.

There seems to be some question about whether enough documents were presented.

Did Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and all other Senators express their wish to support Estrada?

Real life is usually more complex than soundbites from anyone of any political persuasion.

Posted by: GHDEL | July 13, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Graham is the only GOP senator smart enough to attempt to keep latino votes.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | July 13, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing outstanding about Sotomayor's jurisprudence record. In fact, she has had 8 of 10 opionions overturned by the Supreme Court. Bottom line is that if her name was Sonny Mayor, she would never have been nominated. Is this really progress? Did the Democrats talking about her personal history and longevity on the federal bench actually did her a disservice? Not much substance about her judicial career. The basis of her nomination to the highest court is for wrong reasons.

Posted by: Verrazzano | July 13, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your intellectually honest response to Senator Graham's opening statement. May your objectivity continue to both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: stevecampbell1 | July 13, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Sotomayor was chosen because she was an outstanding intellect with the requisite legal skills and personal empathy that would help render intelligent, well-reasoned legal decisions, exactly like the other members of the supreme court. Mr. Obama won, he has the winner's choice, and this is a very good thing. She happens to be an outstanding pick. Mr. Graham needs to be reminded that had a democrat president had the picks 20 years ago justices Thomas and Scalia would today be in private practice. Please relay this to him.

Posted by: sls213 | July 13, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

If we have, as Rodriguez suggests, ONE intellectually honest person in the Senate, what are we to make of the other 99?

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | July 13, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Sotomayor was chosen because of her outstanding intellect? Sorry, I don't buy that. Someone has decided it is imperative to get a Hispanic on the Supreme Court. She may be the most brilliant person in the world but if her last name was Bork, for example, I seriously doubt we would be having this discussion.

Posted by: moveestimator | July 14, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding!

I can't believe anyone would buy Graham's paper-thin veneer of reasonableness. He has pulled this fake-thoughtful BS time and time again. He pretended to question the Clinton impeachment only to vote for it and become one of the floor managers in the fight. He has always been a loyal foot soldier for Bush and then McCain, supporting the war at every turn.

Graham is a reptile. A chameleon capable of changing to the prevailing environment to obscure who he really is. And no one ever said he was stupid. When a clearly losing situation comes along, like this, he is not cannon fodder like Cantor or Boehner, willing to maintain strident neocon discipline in the face of slaughter. His performance yesterday was a consummate act of sophistry and hypocrisy. Left handed compliments masking his resignation to losing.

This isn't reasonableness. This is expedience. Its a shame you can't see the difference but its worse that you buy into his act and sell it like a true believer. Graham is a two-bit neocon huckster who will only do what's good for Lindsay Graham.

Posted by: joebanks | July 14, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

[[You have got to be kidding!

I can't believe anyone would buy Graham's paper-thin veneer of reasonableness. He has pulled this fake-thoughtful BS time and time again. ]]
I, too, have been taken in by Lindsey Graham, especially when Republicans were riding roughshod over the country during the heydey of the Bush years. I was looking to any Republican in Congress for some moderation and reasonableness. Grahmam would seem to be that voice and then turn around and show his true colors. The mask completely came off during this past presidential season. I take whatever he says today with a grain of salt. I doubt if he will vote to confirm.

Posted by: creatia52 | July 14, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"About her assertion that "a wise Latina woman" would make a better decision than a white male, Graham accurately noted that if he'd said anything remotely close to that his political career would be over."
First of all, it makes no sense to declare a hypothetical "accurate". Second, as you well know, Alito said something that was certainly "remotely" similar. Thirdly, would you really contend that no sitting senator has survived a racially insensitive quote? Shall we start with Sessions...
I guess your definition of intellectually honest is sentiments you personally agree with.

Posted by: fgww | July 14, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Of course Eva is right, but the most interesting of comments are those who disagree with her on the strangest of grounds. Some are never willing to admit the facts they do not like. Never.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | July 14, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Verrazzano wrote that Judge Sotomayor "has had 8 of 10 opinions overturned by the Supreme Court."

Let's get some perspective here, Verraz. In 10 years on the Appellate Bench, Judge Sotomayor heard several thousand (3,000+) appeals. When in the majority on those cases, she wrote nearly 400 opinions. Only 5 of the hundreds of opinions she wrote were reviewed by the Supreme Court, which affirmed 2 of the 5 and reversed 3. The other 5 opinions--not upheld by the Supremes--in which she was a member of the Appellate Court majority were written by a different judge. That still leaves standing HUNDREDS of opinions she authored and HUNDREDS MORE in which she concurred with the majority.

That's not a bad record.

Posted by: lisa9 | July 14, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

i wonder if any wise latina women would say anything different than this -- it reminds me of murphy brown who ofen complimented conservatives -- when they embraced liberal views. it's true the dems won and it does, to quote john stewart -- taste like a sh*t taco but its the media's turn -- they won.

Posted by: harbinger317 | July 14, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

After seeing Sen. Graham's petty and, frankly, pretty pathetic questioning of Ms. Sotomayor, I find it hard to believe that that was the actions of an "intellectually honest" senator. Do you still stand by your admiration for Sen. Graham, Ms. Rodriguez?

Posted by: sembtex | July 14, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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