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Civil Rights Groups Warn in Advance of Hearings: 'We Are Watching'

By Krissah Thompson
NEW YORK -- Leaders of civil rights groups gathered today to issue a warning to participants in Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings this week. “We are watching,” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said.

He spoke at a news conference at the opening of the NAACP’s centennial convention, where he was joined by the leaders of the Puerto Rican and NAACP Legal Defense Funds to raise concerns about the potential for racially tinged rhetoric to creep into the confirmation hearings of the first Hispanic nominated to the court.

They pointed to the recent focus by conservatives on Sotomayor’s past involvement with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, now called LatinoJustice PRLDEF, as an example.

In a floor speech last month, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) -- the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- called LatinoJustice PRLDEF "a group that has taken some very shocking positions with respect to terrorism.” He cited PRLDEF leaders who had taken up for Puerto Rican nationalists who attacked the House of Representatives in 1954 and a former PRLDEF president who made news in the 1990s when he said the nationalists were viewed by many in Puerto Rico as "fighters of freedom and justice."

Others have suggested Sotomayor's longtime association with the fund is an indication that she may favor certain groups one the bench because of the legal defense fund's liberal stances on issues such as capital punishment and affirmative action.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Sessions' “description of our sister organization as ‘extreme’ is reminiscent of his previous comment about us as ‘communist’ and ‘un-American.’” Sessions has since said those comments about the NAACP and ACLU were distorted.

Cesar Perales, president of LatinoJustice PRLDEF and a founder of the fund, said in defense of his organization: “We have sought justice and equality.”

Sotomayor held leadership roles on the legal defense fund's board throughout the 1980s. She left it when she became a federal judge.

Jealous said NAACP members are monitoring hearings this week and have instructions to contact their senators if they are displeased with the nature of the questions Sotomayor faces.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 11, 2009; 6:38 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Comments

The audacity of those who purport to represent contemporary civil rights orthodoxy continues to grow. Now Mr. Jealous and his PC proxies are trying to preemptively stifle debate and criticism coming even from the Republican Party, as if his ilk command any respect whatsoever from the ranks of the GOP.

Of course, if blacks in any numbers affiliated with the party of enterprise, of opportunity and of individual responsibility, then Republican senators might actually have some electoral reason to care what people like Ben Jealous and his fringe compatriots in Puerto Rico have to say.

As it is, Ben Jealous has about as much sway in the Senate as does Marion Barry.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | July 11, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Civil Rights Groups? Isn't that code for groups who want special status when it comes to civil rights? There's only one group of people to whom (U.S. Constitutional) civil rights belong- that is U.S. citizens. Bigots of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are an anti-civil rights group.

Posted by: rpatoh | July 11, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please, here are the right-wingers, playing the race card again. Organizations such as the NACCP and NCLR were founded in response to white racism that kept minorities out of schools, jobs and government organizations. Whites like Sessions are the ones wo supported segregation, lynchings and outright racism. At one point in NY, Puerto Ricans were not allowed to eat in the same establishments as whites. They were discriminated in education and in the workplace.

Sotomayor graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and got a scholarship to Princeton university based on her excellent academic record. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Yale Law School, where she served as editor of the Yale Law journal, she graduated at the top of her class. Her seventeen years of experience on federal courts (11 in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals) vastly outstrips the combined years of experience John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas had when they were nominated --seven in total. She has more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years.

Of the 110 people who have served on the Supreme Court, only four were not white males.

This same Supreme Court, made up of white men, upheld the laws against interracial marriages in Pace v. Alabama (1883); it upheld segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); in United States v. Thind (1923), it held that Asians could not become citizens because they were not white; it found to be legal the internment of Japanese-Americans in Hirabayashi v. United States (1943), and so on...

We don't need any more white males in the court who will rule based on their prejudices and who will shove their racist attitudes down our throats.

Posted by: CyberPost | July 11, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

CyberPost,
And you were there?

Get over it!

Posted by: rpatoh | July 11, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

>>We don't need any more white males in the court who will rule based on their prejudices and who will shove their racist attitudes down our throats.
Posted by: CyberPost | July 11, 2009 9:43 PM |<<

Actually, we don't anybody who will rule based on their prejudices and who will shove their racist attitudes down our throats.

Posted by: rpatoh | July 11, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Some of these comments, especially from "rpatch' and "RealityCheckerInEffect", are essentially bigoted, narrow-minded, and even racist.

It is truly sad that commentors have to show their complete lack of understanding of others, and think they are the only people in the US who are right.

I served in the military for 24 years you you could have the right to spew your garbage, and I defend your right to say it, but it is still garbage, and you are still ignorantly wrong.

BTW, I am a WASP, and until April 2008 I was a lifelong "R". I left the party because of people, attitudes, and opinions like yours.

You'll never get it either.

.

Posted by: swanieaz | July 11, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

sotomayor's record is racist. She shouldn't be a member of the SCOTUS. Sorry libs.

Posted by: charlietuna6661 | July 11, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Good! With racist freaks like Sessions in the hearings, one needs all the ammunition one can get.

Go Sonia! You're extremely well qualified and you worked very hard to get where you are.

Don't let some Southern racist (why is it that the worst racists always come from the south?) derail you. You are heaps smarter than that pathetic clown.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | July 12, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Nothing could be more "extreme" and "shocking" than the ignorance and racism Jeff Sessions has displayed in his career. I predict that the right wing pinheads are going to get schooled hard this week, by a wise Latina woman who won't take no crap. She doesn't need a single Republican vote to get confirmed. If that happens, the Republicans have lost far more than their base could ever hope to provide. Latinos now make up about 40% of all minorities in this country. If they are disrespectful and get schooled, they will lose any hope of the Latino vote for a generation. The Repubs better get smart and start thinking about the votes necessary to getting elected over the next few decades. The evangelical churches and the gun shops ain't gonna provide those registered voters. Brought to you by a white male whose sick of conservative BS.

Posted by: seve2yoo | July 12, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

1.Posted by: charlietuna666-
sotomayor's record is racist. She shouldn't be a member of the SCOTUS. Sorry libs.
-show where any of her decisions have been racist. Are you still harping on that ‘wise latina’ statement? in the immortal words of rpatoh: Get over it! She’s smart and she’s latina. Why would you have a problem with that? Go back to your can, you chicken of the sea.

2.Posted by: rpatoh Civil Rights Groups? Isn't that code for groups who want special status when it comes to civil rights? Answer-no.

3. Posted by: rpatoh There's only one group of people to whom (U.S. Constitutional) civil rights belong- that is U.S. citizens. Bigots of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are an anti-civil rights group.
-The members of the NAACP are US citizens. Just because YOU exclude them doesn’t make them bigots. But it does make you one.

4. Posted by: rpatoh And you were there? Get over it!
-Nominated for stupidest response

Posted by: fellowbozo | July 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Opening Arguments" is an oxymoron, as every law school graduate, and most other thinking people, know. Opening statements, closing arguments. One cannot argue about facts, evidence or any related matter before they has been formally introduced. Who is the ignoramus in marketing or editing at WaPo who came up with this wrongheaded label? Replace it with something better thought out.

Posted by: mypost26 | July 12, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Opening Arguments" is an oxymoron, as every law school graduate, and most other thinking people, know. Opening statements, closing arguments. One cannot argue about facts, evidence or any related matter before they have been formally introduced. Who is the ignoramus in marketing or editing at WaPo who came up with this wrongheaded label? Replace it with something better thought out.

Posted by: mypost26 | July 12, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Reading these comments makes it abundantly clear that our backgrounds and experience do affect our judgement. All of this name calling helps no one. The NAACP and other civil rights groups have as much right to their opinions as do the National Rifle Association. That is the brilliance of the rights that the writers of the Constitution bequeathed to us. With it comes responsibilities to work toward full equality for all citizens and "a more perfect union". Anything else is a betrayal of our democratic institutions, such as the Supreme Court, and the ideals that have made it possible for Sotomayer to be considered for this position.

Posted by: connieharold | July 12, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

“I would hope that a wise WHITE man with the richness of HIS experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female who hasn’t lived that life,”…

Opening, or closing, arguments on this?

The fact of the matter is that Sonia made a comment that demonstrates her real feelings on her status. Her experience, race, gender, ethnic background is BETTER and she will reach a "better" conclusion.
Better than what?

Some folks are screaming RACISM!! while they live under it's protection, receive preferential treatment REGARDLESS of their own personal effort, commitment and pursuit of a "better" life.

Is Sonia "perfect"? Heck no! But I do believe she will spearhead a wave of change that started out as a ripple years and years ago, with the small and then larger trickles of blood shed by folks that honestly and truthfully believed in "all men are born equal".

Too bad Boston Legal is no longer on the air.

Posted by: cxm12 | July 12, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

one poster ask why are most racist from the south, well i know that racist come from all areas.but one constant is that most racist are proud to belong to the repug party.this jurist like all judges will bring her life experiences and background into her ruling from the bench. and since all we've ever had previously has been was old white men's viewpoints, we welcome the balance on the court as it should reflect all american endeavors.also we are very proud of the new nominee for surgeon general.

Posted by: ninnafaye | July 13, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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