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Sotomayor Hearings: Who's in the Hot Seat Now?

By Eva Rodriguez

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., entered this fourth day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings with seeming concern about how all this is playing back home.

During an appearance on C-SPAN earlier today, he had been asked about a Politico article quoting a prominent Texas Republican political consultant, who warned that “Cornyn’s going to have to repair fences with Hispanics; they are going to be scrutinizing him a lot harder after the way he questioned Sotomayor.” Cornyn also took a question from an Arkansas caller on the "Democrat" line, who pointed to repeated and sometimes intense Republican cross-examination of Sotomayor over her "wise Latina comments" and argued that Cornyn would face backlash in his home state, with its substantial Hispanic population, if he voted against confirmation of the would-be first Hispanic justice. Not surprisingly, Cornyn disagreed and implied that his constituents would understand if he voted on the basis of principled differences.

Still, Cornyn's opening questions to Sotomayor this morning suggested that he may have taken the warnings to heart.

Judge, when we met the first time, as I believe I recounted earlier, I made a pledge to you that I would do my best to make sure you were treated respectfully and this would be a fair process. I just want to ask you upfront: Do you feel like you've been given a chance to explain your record and your judicial philosophy to the American people?

Sotomayor gave Cornyn the answer he wanted -- in fact, that only answer the politically savvy nominee could give. I have been treated fairly, she said. "Every senator on both sides of the aisle that have made that promise to me have kept it fully."

Perhaps fearing that didn't provide him enough political cover, the senator went on to compliment Sotomayor. "And Judge, you know, the test is not whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor is intelligent. You are. The test is not whether we like you. I think, speaking personally, I think we all do. The test is not even whether we admire you or we respect you, although we do admire you and respect what you've accomplished," Cornyn said. "The test is really, what kind of justice will you be if confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States?"

It's unfortunate that the white men like Cornyn, who may be skeptical of Sotomayor's approach to judging, have to fear that a vote against her may appear to some -- or be used by opponents -- as proof of prejudice. That's completely unfair but sadly the political reality they must deal with. I'd love to think that every senator who weighs in on this nomination would vote on the merits as he or she sees them. I've been in this town long enough to know that merits often have little to do with a lawmaker's final vote.

By Eva Rodriguez  | July 16, 2009; 11:43 AM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Next: The Meaning of Sotomayor's Retreat

Comments

Not so much, now citizen Rodriguez, but in the future. As far as compliments go, She is deserving of many. The phrase 'legal brainiac' comes to mind. She has paid Her dues in this 'game'.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | July 16, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Poor Cornyn? Are you on drugs?

There are no merits being debated in this hearing, least of all by Cornyn, Graham and Sessions. This is pure political theater with these Republicans doing anything they can to obstruct with partisan fervor, smear with deliberate misunderstanding and now wear this robe of hypocrisy to make up for the reprehensible spectacle of calling affirmative action reverse racism and Sotomayer herself a racist.

I hope Hispanics in Texas get together and run Cornyn's butt out of town on a rail.

Posted by: joebanks | July 16, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

As someone has said earlier, these hearings must be the ultimate in irony. Jeff Sessions a person who was seen as too racist by Republican standards to be confirmed at his own hearing is now grilling someone on being a racist.
Sessions is one of the most partisan member of the Senate yet he is trying to find out how impartial a judge Sotomayor will be. This from a guy who said,jokingly said that the Ku Klux Klan was not so bad until he found out that some of them smoked marijuana.[2][4] Sessions also allegedly referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as "un-American" and "Communist-inspired" because they "forced civil rights down the throats of people." At his confirmation hearings, Sessions said that the groups could be un-American when "they involve themselves in un-American positions" in foreign policy.

Posted by: Ironcomments | July 16, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Michael Gerson is weeping for the plight of the white male. No, the reason why John Cornyn will justifiably be scrutinized for his questions of a Latina justice is because he would never ask similar questions of a while male. Even one who made a comment championing his own Italian heritage. Oh right, that was Samuel Alito. But because he's an archconservative (and still "white"), it's okay for him but not for Sotomayor. Cornyn, Sessions, Coburn, Graham, Hatch, and now, Gerson, are simply upset that a female and a minority has had the arrogance and gaul to try and achieve what white males have so desperate tried to make an exclusive club. I'm not even saying it's a conscious anger, but the anger is there. But yes, Mr. Gerson, poor, poor, white males. Such a put-upon race.

Posted by: knightstale | July 16, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Cornyn not a racist, Reagan not a racist, Bush not a racist but all willing to appeal to racism to garner votes. The Southern Strategy lives on.

Posted by: glynnjp1 | July 17, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

The retard Republicans will now vote for her in masse as they cringe from what the Latino masses would or maybe will do to them at the next elections. Time will tell. Have we seen the last of Ensign, Kyl, Cornyn, (Stanford and ex Gov Palin) and yes maybe even McCain, etc?

How soon will South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky et al become Blue States?

Posted by: Democrat4 | July 17, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"It's unfortunate that the white men like Cornyn, who may be skeptical of Sotomayor's approach to judging, have to fear that a vote against her may appear to some -- or be used by opponents -- as proof of prejudice. That's completely unfair but sadly the political reality they must deal with."

why is it unfair? It is a rational assumption.

Posted by: boricuaogun | July 17, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I can't read the minds of Hispanic citizens. It seems to me that the Republicans have come out looking bad to the American people, while trying to fire up their base to raise campaign contributions. They nitpicked a few quotes to death; and made a stink about the firefighters case, which was guided by precendent. The brought up a comment by one lawyer about judicial temperament, that is contradicted by the good opinion of hundreds of lawyers that appeared before Sotomayor. They should look foolish not only to Hispanics, but to the American people as a whole, and needed to back off from their positions. If Cornyn backed off because he enraged Hispanics in Texas, it is not wrong, because he ticked off a lot of Americans and would look like a fool if he didn't try to repair it.
It would be interesting to find out how much cash the Republicans raised with this.
In the end many of them will have to vote for her or really look stupid.

Posted by: eadler2 | July 17, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"I've been in this town long enough to know that merits often have little to do with a lawmaker's final vote." Fantastic line when you consider Obama wanted to vote for Roberts but took the advice of campaign staff and voted no. Cornyn and Kyl are both playing with fire repeatedly bringing up wise latina woman to the point it is played out and part of joke culture. They both may get knocked out of the box without a religious right item on the ballot.

Posted by: jameschirico | July 17, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ironcomments on the obvious racism of sessions and the fact that this racist is the ranking republican on this committee. It shows the real face of the republican party, along with Ensign and other "family values" reproblicans.
The "most qualified nominee" in over 70 years has to put up with these racist narrow minded fecalcraniums is the price you pay for democracy and the free speech in this country, so be it, but all the world is watching these fools.

Posted by: rosenfan1 | July 18, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

While Sotomayor gained the hearts and minds of Americans, the Senators appeared unprepared and dim.

Posted by: uvskincare | July 18, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

One of the comments on Judge Sotomayer was, "She has paid Her dues in this 'game'." Yes, but so did the firefighters whose careers she cavalierly consigned to "no consideration." I am sure she will be confirmed, and I am sure she will continue to treat some of our citizens as less deserving than others on the basis of race and ethnic identity. No bravo for that.

Posted by: hyood | July 18, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

the simple fact is Judge Sotomayor was well qualified.

Republicans could have given their constant criticism of every other thing this President has done some bit of credulty had they simply said they had seen her confirmed twice before and had no qualms...

But no, they grandstanded, raked in the money promising to stop her nomintion to theri constituents, and made it an issue of race to shoot themselves in their own foot.

Not looking for a republican come back in the near future.

Posted by: dutchess2 | July 18, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

ANOTHER WORTHLESS HEARING, WHICH LIKE ALL PREVIOUS LOOK AS A BAD SOAP-OPERA.

Posted by: mtavro | July 18, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Hispanics in Texas are not PR's! I doubt the Hispanics in Texas care about SS or the USSC. This Senator will not lose the Hispanic vote in Texas.

Posted by: rustynailx | July 20, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Cornyn, Sessions, Graham and the others looked like writhing dinosaurs in the tar pits. The country is passing them by. And thank god.

Posted by: marciamac1 | July 20, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

hyood posted on July 18, 2009 11:01 AM
“One of the comments on Judge Sotomayer was, "She has paid Her dues in this 'game'." Yes, but so did the firefighters whose careers she cavalierly consigned to "no consideration."……”

Right wing talk radio sure twisted the firefighter case 180 degrees and the rubes believe everything they were spoon fed.

The case was “did the city have the right to withdraw the test”. Precedent was YES!

It was the Supreme Court that legislated from the bench.

I’m sure serial litigator Frank Ricci will be in the news again.

The republican senators made fools of themselves and they are the face of the republican party.

Posted by: knjincvc | July 21, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

"Do you feel like you've been given a chance to explain your record and your judicial philosophy to the American people?"

I understand that English isn't the man's native language, so it's inappropriate to criticize this.

Oh, wait: this is his native language. Oh dear. Oh God.

Well, in English, I say I feel I've been given a chance or I feel otherwise. I don't feel "like" the event has or hasn't happened. That's how the language works. If you've been speaking it all your life, you may be expected to know this.

Posted by: jpk1 | July 21, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

If a white male judge had said "I believe that a wise white male might make a better decision than a latina woman" would it be considered racist?

Posted by: tenshi1 | July 22, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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