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Sotomayor Hearings: Sen. Sessions, Meet Sen. Hatch

As the hearings on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court opened this morning, the contrast between Democratic supporters of President Barack Obama’s first nominee and the Republicans likely to oppose her elevation was perfectly predictable. Not necessarily so was the sharp disparity in style between Republicans sitting close to one another on the Senate Judiciary Committee dais.

They gave us a chance to separate the men from the spoilsport boys.

The opening statement from Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the panel, amounted to an unbounded attack on Sotomayor’s previous comments about the way her Hispanic heritage shapes her world view. They were harsh even beyond the expected partisanship of a judicial confirmation hearing -- and almost devoid of courtesy.

Then came Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former Judiciary Committee chairman who has both steered Republican appointees to approval and sought to stymie Democratic picks. Though his substantive comments on Sotomayor’s philosophy seemed to mirror Sessions line of reasoning, Hatch was impeccably gracious, grounded his arguments by quoting none other than former Sen. Barack Obama and closed his opening statement by saying to Sotomayor: “I’m proud of you. And I wish you well.”

The Utah senator provided a model of how Republicans -- from a party that is increasingly looked upon by the majority of Americans as shrill and even wacky -- might oppose without unduly antagonizing. He proved the adage that with experience comes wisdom -- and for Republicans, perhaps even a chance at winning again.

By Marie Cocco  | July 13, 2009; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  Cocco  | Tags:  Marie Cocco  
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Next: Sessions Takes the Gloves Off

Comments

Sen. Sessions helps with the perception that the GOP is focused on white southern men. And that when it comes to those who think differently or look different than that group they are not to be trusted. IS this the best way to make the GOP tent bigger? I think not! Better to have Sen. Hatch act as leader.

Posted by: Ralph_Indianapolis | July 13, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the attack dog mode will last - I expect all the committee senators will start acting a little more senatorial and less like radio talk show personalities.

Posted by: DROSE1 | July 13, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Having just read Sen. Sessions opening stmt it is amazing to me how little of our history and law he seems to be aware of and how much his own ideology has colored his view of America and our history. Just another nail on the GOP coffin.

Posted by: kchses1 | July 13, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Orrin Hatch is "proud" of Judge Sotomayor? I seriously doubt that he made that same statement to either Judges Roberts or Alito. That statement is commensurate with the ill concealed bias of Sessions albeit more "graciously" expressed by Hatch. Bias is bias no matter how pretty the package. The dynamic that is set-up with such a statement is a superior-subordinate relationship. Think about it, you may be proud of your children, your students, your nieces and nephews, etc. Among equals, you are proud to be a friend. to know them, to have witnessed accomplishments,etc. These subtleties illustrate deeply institutionalized beliefs that are second nature to most males, mostly white, in positions of power. It is heartening to know that the demography of the country is growing rapidly and is forcing change in my lifetime.

Posted by: Beezercal1 | July 13, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

if Republican lawmakers pay the Washington Post $250,000, will you then provide them with more positive coverage? I guess one side of the aisle is running a bit late with their payola. The check is in the mail, WaPo

Posted by: Tinman1188 | July 13, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

also from the mouth of Mr. Sessions:

“The civil libertarians among us would rather defend the constitution than protect our nation’s security.”

Posted by: vigor | July 13, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The very fact that Judge Sotomayor has had more judicial experience THAN ANY OTHER SITTING JUSTICE PRESENTLY ON THE SUPREME COURT had when scrutinized by the Senate before their nominations should be a thunderous credential as to her qualifications, despite what Republican naysayers try to do to scuttle her ultimate approval by the Senate.

Posted by: vicsoir | July 13, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me how, a judge who said that her view is superior to a white guy and who ruled against whites who were discriminated against, can be a candidate for the Supreme Court?

Posted by: numbersch13 | July 13, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The part I will really enjoy is when certain Republican senators, after all the hoo-ha, will vote for her anyway. Examples: John McCain of Arizona, Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. All have huge Hispanic populations in their respective states.

Posted by: HarrietCapron | July 13, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

If Sotomeyer is approved, which is likely, it will be the continutaion of the dumbing down of America.
Whatever happened to using your brains, studying for exams, having a work ethic?

I want women in every office, "qualified" women, I fear she is not.
This is definately more of the "change" we were promised and more of the "giving away" of what one works for, money, jobs and good moral character.

God Bless America...land of the free-loaders!

Posted by: canyon2 | July 13, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thankfully Obama is in charge. But YOU, Ms. Cocco, would support ANY woman for the job, qualified or not.

Didn't you support Harriet Myers?

I'm SO GLAD the last generation's leaders are seen as incompetent by today's electorate.

Both YOU and Jeff Sessions need to go.

Posted by: onestring | July 13, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

To respond to onestring and his "freeloaders" comment.

How would you describe an individual who was a poor C student in a prestigious college, never succeeded at any job or profession he ever pursued, and could barely express himself coherently without a speechwriter? Yet a certain party placed this man in the highest office in the land where even his most die hard supporters would admit he failed miserably. Yet a woman who worked her way through school with stellar grades followed by a stellar career is not deserving of the high position she's been nominated for? She is the freeloader?

If anyone can connect the dots on this to this amazing woman's disadvantage, must be as devoid in character and intelligence as our last, affirmative action in the rich man's legacy tradition president.

Posted by: DBCarren | July 13, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Sessions, my junior Senator, is in my opinion an ignoramus with racist tendencies who disgraces Alabama. Add to this rudeness and pettiness unbecoming a Senator. Strike that--not much is unbecoming to a Senator.

Posted by: sim55 | July 13, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Orin Hatch is a class act. He is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and comports himself accordingly.

The GOP are making a big error to attack this woman on her statements on Latina women vs. White men because everyone says something stupid in their lifetime. She is a liberal and Obama wants her. She is eminently qualified for the job by virtue of her experience and may turn out to be a fine Justice, especially in criminal actions.

I say the GOP should abandon all cheap shots, vet her and confirm her.

Show Barak Obama that his actions in voting No on the two that he said were well qualified, i.e. Alito and Roberts were pure politics and to be scorned.

Posted by: mharwick | July 13, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Has the Post once again run out of reporters? You could have phoned this junk in last week! Get someone who knows what they're talking about on the job, please.

Posted by: qball43 | July 13, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

numbersch13, I will be glad to explain it to you.

The famous "Latina" comment you refer to has been distorted by you and by others. Sotomayor's only point was that someone with her background brings knowledge and experience to the bench that someone with a different background does not. It may be hard for you to understand, but it does seem odd to a lot of women, for example, that the decision on a woman's right to choose should be made by a court composed exclusively of men.

If there is anyone thinks that a judge's background and life experience should have absolutely no affect on the decisions he or she makes on the bench, I would ask that person this: Would you have any problem appointing to the Court someone who had been a member of the KKK or the Communist Party? If you really believe a judge's background and experience should be irrelevant, your answer should be "No."

Your comment on Sotomayor's decision in the Ricci case is also a distortion. Sotomayor's opinion in the case simply follows the rule in such cases that was set years ago by the Second Circuit, the court to which she belonged. Following the rules set by previous decisions is what judges almost always do in our system, so pretending that there was something outrageous about her actions is pretty ridiculous.

The truth is that in the overwhelming majority of cases in which she has been asked to rule on claims of racial discrimination, Sotomayor has ruled against those claiming discrimination, regardless of race.

Hope that clears it up for you.

Posted by: continental46@aol.com | July 13, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Would SCOTUS Justice Sotomayer vote to schedule hearings of the merits of the challenges to BHO's qualifying to serve as POTUS in light of evidence of his forged COLB,
http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/07/atlas-exclusive.html
and;

His posting (until last week) this forged COLB on his 'fightthesmears' website to fraudulently assert he was eligible to become POTUS, whereas;

He is fraudulently occuying the Whitehouse based upon illegal criminal acts and actions to defraud American citizens of theri protections that the POTUS will be a natural-born citizen, whereas;

Could Sondra Sotomayer seek to enforce the US Constituions mandate the POTUS be a natural-born citizen to continue to serve in that capacity, whereas;

When it is determined Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen will Sondra vote to be removed from the Whitehouse and recommendation prosecution for those criminal acts and actions?

Posted by: Archarito | July 13, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding? Democrats invented this. There's a reason we call this type of behavior a "borking". The dems went through Bork's trash cans and subpoenad his video store records.

Posted by: joe_g | July 13, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

canyon2 said: If Sotomeyer is approved, which is likely, it will be the continutaion of the dumbing down of America.
Whatever happened to using your brains, studying for exams, having a work ethic?

I want women in every office, "qualified" women, I fear she is not.
This is definately more of the "change" we were promised and more of the "giving away" of what one works for, money, jobs and good moral character.

God Bless America...land of the free-loaders!
================================
Apparently you haven't done very much research about Sotomayor. She has the longest judicial record of any previous candidate for the court. And, if written opinions on a wide variety of case law is any indication of "work ethic," my guess is she could work us both into the ground.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | July 13, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

You forgot to mention that Sen. Sessions was denied a bench when he was nominated due to racial bias.

He may not have been a member of the KKK but he was a subscriber.

So, I would say consider the source when reporting their comments.

Posted by: jrubin1 | July 13, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Can someone explain to me how, a judge who said that her view is superior to a white guy and who ruled against whites who were discriminated against, can be a candidate for the Supreme Court?"

Well, what about the other 8 judges who ruled the same way she did, and were all following the law. Sorry she's not right-wing activist enough for you (like Roberts and Alito).

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | July 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Truly, anyone who dares question any "diverse" candidate must be a "spoilsport". I'm impressed by the Post's studied indifference to any of the actual issues raised about Sotomayer -- instead, it's all about killing the messengers. Similarly, we must destroy any activist conservatives (a contradiction in terms) for their radical belief that the Constitution should be read literally. I'd much rather have someone who swears fidelity to the law - whatever law she currently believes in that morning as interpreted through the lense of her wise latina heritage. In the liberal world, that's not activism, it's much needed diversity in a world in which there is no real truth, and therefore no objective laws.

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

This is just manifestation of the long-held but flimsy belief that conservatives are generally less educated than liberals. Let them think that. That's a good sign. It's always their undoing.

Posted by: HookInMouth | July 13, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

To Canyon2: you personify the dumbing of Americans. Sotomayor graduated SUMMA CUM LAUDE (highest honors) from an elite white Ivy League Princeton. If you think Princeton will allow a "dumb" woman to get a Summa, you really are an ignoramus. Sotomayor has over 17 years as Federal Judge, better than Robert, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy and all other white men in the Court. Alito went o Princeton but he was a middling student; so shut up.

Posted by: mstratas | July 13, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Even in a dying Republican party lacking of leadership, you never hear Sessions mentioned. I suppose that tells you all you need to know.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | July 13, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

This is just manifestation of the long-held but flimsy belief that conservatives are generally less educated than liberals. Let them think that. That's a good sign. It's always their undoing.

Posted by: HookInMouth
******************************

Wow, what is the color of the sky in your world?

Posted by: LABC | July 13, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Beezercal1:

Hatch was quoting Obama. Are you saying Obama, in his original statement, was speaking to Sotomayor as a subordinate - that he was being condescending? If so, was it because Sotomayor is a woman, or Latina, or both? Or are you saying Obama could not have been speaking down to the judge because he and Sotomayor are not white while Hatch, saying exactly the same words, had to be speaking down to her simply because he is white.

And do you always analyze every single interaction between people in these bizarre terms? If that's the case, it's a good thing you're not a Supreme Court nominee. You'd be more like the Handicapper General than a judge.

Posted by: telesonic | July 13, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

oh my god, this marie cococo lady is TERRIBLE. via realclearpolitics i've seen her drivel on, i think, the indianapolis star, or some similarly provincial rag.

and this post is par for the course. can you blame sessions for being less than completely cordial? afterall, sotomayor basically claimed she was racially superior to him.

i think i know better than marie cococo and judge sotomayor becuase i am a male and white, but i dont come out and say it in public speeches.

if nothing else, sotomayor should be embarassed for her lack of disrection and common sense.

Posted by: dummypants | July 13, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

to Telesonic

You prove my point. Obama said he was proud to present Judge Sotomayer as a nominee, which is a statement made to an equal.

Institutionalized bias doesn't require much thught or analysis, it is quite clear.

Posted by: Beezercal1 | July 13, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Even in a dying Republican party you never hear Sessions mentioned
by unpluggedboodah

Have you checked under the heading 'Shriveled'?

Posted by: MTgrassland | July 13, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"Can someone explain to me how, a judge who said that her view is superior to a white guy and who ruled against whites who were discriminated against, can be a candidate for the Supreme Court?

Posted by: numbersch13 | July 13, 2009 2:05 PM |
******************************************
Sure but it would be way over your head.

Posted by: ORNOT | July 13, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the Republicans blow it strategically. They think that attacking the nominee viscerally has no down side, because she’s going to be confirmed whatever they say or do. But in reality, they piss off women and Hispanics big time by doing this, both groups whose support they desperately need.

The well reasoned choice for the Republicans would have been not to bother attacking her, given that they gain little to nothing by doing so, and thereby avoid the big down side. Plainly the Republicans calling the shots can’t see the forest from the trees. Yes!!!

By the way, can you imagine if Palin was a senator asking questions and the nominee turned to her and asked her if she now was familiar with any Supreme Court decisions other than Roe?

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

It's always "enlightening" to read such assertions as this one:

"can you blame sessions for being less than completely cordial? afterall, sotomayor basically claimed she was racially superior to him.

i think i know better than marie cococo and judge sotomayor becuase i am a male and white, but i dont come out and say it in public speeches."

The person who posted this claim has self-selected a very appropriate screen name: dummypants.

Posted by: spbphil | July 13, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

How about if John Roberts had given speeches in which he said "I think that as a white male I will come to a better conclusion that a black female" you think that Senate Democrats would treat him with more respect than Sen. Sessions showed to Sotomayor.

It's a rhetorical question. If the shoe were on the other foot, and Sotomayor were a white male making the very same comments about a black or Hispanic female, not only would she never have been nominated in the first place--her career would have been over then and there. And rightfully so, racism has no place in America today.

But unfortunately, racism is still rampant among the liberal Left.

Posted by: Barno1 | July 13, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Senator Sessions remarks prove the point. White men do say the stupidest things.

Posted by: DaktariImpossible | July 13, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

she is qualified and will be confirmed.

Posted by: jrm1 | July 13, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Sotomayor will get in because she meets the qualifications laid down by the Constitution. That and the fact that the Democrats have a 60-40 margin in the senate (which is the biggest factor). I suggest they hold the confirmation vote tomorrow and be done with it and congress can get back to spending the last few dollars that are left in private hands.

Meanwhile who is this Cocco person and does she understand what things like "unbounded criticism" even means? Criticizing someone for what they said is not "unbounded". Going through someone's Video Store rentals is "unbounded".

Is she even qualified to write this column, or did the Post give her the gig because she's a woman?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | July 13, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

"

If Sotomeyer is approved, which is likely, it will be the continutaion of the dumbing down of America.
Whatever happened to using your brains, studying for exams, having a work ethic?

I want women in every office, "qualified" women, I fear she is not.
This is definately more of the "change" we were promised and more of the "giving away" of what one works for, money, jobs and good moral character.

God Bless America...land of the free-loaders!

Posted by: canyon2"

Apparently, as to freeloaders, it takes one to know one, canyon. Is your screen name associated with the depth of your ignorance? I'm sure you studied hard, got into Princeton and Yale Law, and have just been waiting for the call.

More likely, you drive a broken-down truck and kick the dogs when you get home from the road.

We need more advice from dummies like you! Vote Palin, stupid!

Posted by: thrh | July 13, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

"...Meanwhile who is this Cocco person and does she understand what things like "unbounded criticism" even means? Criticizing someone for what they said is not "unbounded"..."

That's where your confusion arises from. Sessions is the racist who was rejected by the 1986 Republican-majority Judidiciary Committee as a Federal judge nominee because of his racist views, comments, and actions as an Atty General in Alabama.

Sessions is the dude who is distorting Sotomayor's statements. You have trouble understanding the meaning of "empathy". Emphathy is not sympathy. Sessions is making goobers like you think that Sotomayor is racist because she used the word empathy.


=================================

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

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