Leahy to Sotomayor: Sis Boom Bah
By Eva Rodriguez
"Cheerleader" would be a more appropriate title than "chairman" for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). Leahy, who wields the gavel in the Sotomayor confirmation hearing, has used his position and his power to propagandize on behalf of the nominee. When transitioning from one questioner to the next, Leahy often takes the opportunity -- and the time -- to throw out factoids to bolster Sotomayor. During one transition, he touted the American Bar Association's unanimous "well-qualified" rating of Sotomayor; during another he highlighted a study that showed Sotomayor agreed the great majority of the time with Republican-appointed colleagues.
His cheerleading was not confined to the hearing room. During a break in proceedings this morning, he criticized Republican senators for focusing as much on Sotomayor's speeches as her rulings. Never mind that her speeches dealt directly with her views on judging and could -- and. I'd argue, should -- be explored to better understand Sotomayor's judicial philosophy and possible performance if she's confirmed.
Sotomayor has been pressed on whether she brings an open mind to the matters before her. That question need not be asked of the chairman.
UPDATE, 3:52 p.m.: The chairman-cheerleader has put on yet another hat: Supreme Court nominee photographer. Leahy snapped several shots of Sotomayor before he reconvened the confirmation hearings -- and gave a shout-out to her family.
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