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Live Blog: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings


Yesterday Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) made a complete fool of himself, — twice, actually

This morning, Sen. Jeff Sessions…castigated Sotomayor for not ruling with her fellow Puerto Rican colleague, conservative Judge José A. Cabranes, when she decided to deny an en banc appeal in Ricci v. DeStefano, a process in which all judges of a court hear a case (as opposed to a three-judge panel of them). Sessions seemed to indicate that people of the same ancestry should vote the same way:

SESSIONS: You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could’ve changed that case.

Sessions slammed Sotomayor as being “unsuitable for the bench” due to her past affiliation with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Apparently, Sessions didn’t realize that Judge Cabranes also served on PRLDEF’s board.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wasn’t far behind. He asked Sotomayor:

“Doesn’t your decision in Maloney mean that virtually any state or local weapons ban would be permissible?” he asked.

“Sir, in Maloney, we were talking about nunchuck sticks,” the judge explained.

“I understand,” said the senator.

“Those are martial arts sticks,” Sotomayor added.

Hatch did not want to appear to be a ninja newbie. “Two sticks bound together by rawhide or some sort of a –”

“Exactly,” the nominee said. “And when the sticks are swung . . . that swinging mechanism can break arms, it can bust someone’s skull.”

“Sure,” Hatch agreed, breezily. He wasn’t about to get into a fight with an expert in martial arts.

Who will be win the “booby prize” in today’s session?

As Sotomayor pointed out several times yesterday, she has a long history on the bench and has decided hundreds of cases. But all the Republicans wanted to talk about was a speech in which she referred to herself as a “wise latina” whose background might help her add something to the mostly white male judicial system.

Horrors! Doesn’t she understand that *white male* is the norm? The rest of us are supposed to just fit ourselves into that preformed pattern–unless we want to be perceived as “unfair” or even worse–accused of having empathy!

You have to wonder why the Republicans didn’t just produce a couple of examples that would demonstrate Sotomayor’s supposed willingness to “make law” on the bench or whatever else they think she’ll do on the Supreme Court. Apparently they think she concealed her predilictions all these years, waiting for that SCOTUS appontment so she could suddenly reveal herself as the enemy of the white man.

At Politico, Josh Gerstein (formerly of the neocon New York Sun) praises the GOP gotcha tactics.

To hear Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor tell it, it was all just a few poorly chosen words — meant to inspire women and Latinos entering the law but not give rise to doubts about her fundamental fairness.

As her confirmation hearing
heads into its third day Wednesday, Republicans are making clear they don’t buy it.

They say they plan to keep up their questioning of Sotomayor’s true feelings on the role of ethnicity and gender in the law at Wednesday’s hearing — and edged right up to the line of saying that Sotomayor was being dishonest in her answers.

Meanwhile, at CQ Politics, Craig Crawford wonders why the GOP is working so hard to alienate Latino voters.

Watching Lindsey Graham’s gotcha grin as he needled Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with disingenuous and rhetorical questions you had to wonder what was so funny.

Does the Republican senator think it is amusing that he and his party’s condescending tone toward the Hispanic woman was costing them ethnic votes with each passing hour of Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing?

On a much more important issue (IMHO), Charlie Savage at The New York Times has an interesting analysis of Sotomayor’s testimony on privacy rights and abortion. You have to read the whole thing, but to me it sounds like we don’t need to worry about Sotomayor voting to overturn Roe v. Wade.

If you are watching or listening to the hearings today, please post your observations. Those of us who have to stay off the internet at work will be sooooo grateful.

You can watch the hearings on-line starting at 9:30 Easternat this C-Span link.

76 Responses

  1. Ugh, here comes Cornyn. He starts out with gracious comments, but I’m not a fan.

  2. Is this really all they’ve got? They are going to spend the ENTIRE hearing talking about her “empathic” comment? It’s so ridiculous. Confirm her already. This is what I hate about partisanship: opposing the other just for the sake of opposition. Grasping at straws here.

    • No, it’s not all they’ve got, but the smart people won’t run for office as they don’t want to get bogged down with those crazies. 😕

  3. Anybody else here with me? I can’t watch these ninnies–they repeat the same stupid politically motivated strategies to challenge her, and she keeps giving the same answer. What’s the point? My Dad was raised in the Bronx, love her accent 🙂

    • No point. This is a fait accompli. She will be confirmed. GOP senators are grandstanding.

      • But they are spending DAYS asking the same question over and over again–which she has clearly answered. “Yes, I am a human being, and my life experience informs my consciousness, but I adhere to the rule of law.” The END. It’s so inane.

        He’s bugging her about an out of context quote about “physiology” affecting the outcome of judging. She emphasizes that she was asking the question rhetorically, and it needs to be considered. She is too sophisticated a thinker for these nimrods.

    • I find it easier to listen on the radio. At least that way I don’t have to look at their slimy faces and nasty facial expressions.

  4. all the senators are grandstanding, give me a break

    • Yeah, but fif was talking about the ninnies who were challenging her (on empathy and yarda yarda), and those are the Repubs.

      • Because it’s a Dem nominee, the Repubs are in the biggest idiot seat this time around. Luck of the draw. If it were reversed, it would be Dems bringing up ridiculous “objections” and trying to hump some mileage out of them.

        • I know the Dems would be bringing up partisan objections and it would all be kabuki theatre in reverse, but I guess for me the difference here is that they don’t have the same sort of image problems that the Republican party has (Dems of course have their own set of image problems).

          All this “if I said I was better because I was a white male…” and “empathy! oh noez!” commentary from Republican senators is reinforcing the perception of their party as not inclusive, to put it politely. The Dems don’t have the moral high ground, either, but this is just cutting a little deeper for me personally than even the hypocrisy of the Dems, which cuts too deep enough as it is.

  5. Apparently they think she concealed her predilictions all these years, waiting for that SCOTUS appontment so she could suddenly reveal herself as the enemy of the white man..

    That’s it, exactly. It’s so asinine. Do I believe that people exist in this world who DO “hate the white man”, and given the opportunity would screw one over unjustly, law or no law? Yeah, they exist. Sontomayor obviously isn’t one of them, and her rulings make that absolutely clear. This is no different than Obamabots picking through and dissecting intent and seeing “racism” behind every innocent statement.

    Sontomayor made some statements INTENDED to provoke thought and self-examination in her audience re: what women and minorities could bring to the judicial system. Rhetorical flourishes in a speech like that are SUPPOSED to push the envelope enough to get the students/listeners thinking outside the accepted paradigm. She wasn’t rendering legal opinion there, she was trying to inspire. Here statements weren’t about how she sees the white man, they were about how she was encouraging her minority audience to see themselves, and what they had to offer.

    I’ll forgive her a little hyperbole. Puhleeeeze. Look at her rulings. She’s no whitey-hating race-radical, and Sessions and Cornyn are making themselves look like total pricks by painting her as one.

  6. one thing for sure, they have all proved AG Eric Holder’s statement that americans are cowards when it comes to discussing racial issues. I think you would have to be deaf dumb and blind to acknowlege these americans debate it good lord

  7. Why is it that the typical white supremacist is about the last person you would pick if you wanted to demonstrate the superiority of the white race?

  8. To expand on my opinion (FWIW) of what she was saying in those speeches, I’ve read the context, and I get it.

    White male judges have been the standard of what it means to be a great judge for so long. For so long that the automatic psychological tendency is to think “I aspire to one day be as great and wise and accomplished as them.”

    IMO, she was trying to wrench the thinking of minorities away from that “I can be as good as rut. She was trying to get them to think about the possibility that they weren’t limited to merely “measuring up”, but could exceed.

    She wasn’t advocating subverting justice in favor of minorities. She was trying to inspire minorities and women to aspire to be even MORE just and wise (for ALL people) than the standard that has been set for them, instead of settling for being “as good as”.

    She wasn’t talking about pushing the white man down, she was talking about Justice ITSELF being the standard, not those men. She was talking about the standard of JUSTICE being something higher than just settling for achieving what those men have achieved, however worthy. She was telling her audience to stop thinking in terms of “I could be as wise as them”, and start thinking in terms of “I could be even wiser.”

    She was telling them to lift themselves up to the standards of true justice, as objectively defined, not make white men the standard.

    Take it for my opinion, but that’s the sense I get from her speeches.

    • I completely agree, and that is kind of what I was trying to say in the post. But you have made the argument much more clearly. I’m just sick and tired of white males assuming that their point of view on everything is the default position and everyone else has to get with their program.

    • In some ways race and gender shouldn’t affect a judge’s decisions.

      But if the issue is what a “reasonable person” would do or think, that’s were diversity makes a huge difference.

      A minority judge from a poor background would probably have a different view of “reasonable” than a white guy from the upper class.

      • But race and gender *do* affect how judges think–even white males. But the subject only comes up for disucussion when the judge is either female or non-white.

      • Plus, Sotomayor explained that she takes pains to examine her feeling so that she can make sure she doesn’t allow them to affect her decisions. I think that’s a good thing, but the GOP Senators want a robot judge.

        • Sometimes feelings are irrelevant. I’ve seen judges say they didn’t like having to rule a certain way but that was what the law said.

          • I agree, and I think that is what she was saying. But she made the point that if you don’t examine your feelings, they could get in the way without your realizing it. I think that’s true.

      • race and gender have affected white males judges opinions forever. I don’t think that is right, obviously, but I also think Sotomayor meant exactly what she said and that she is also not right.
        Though I am not a fan of activist judges and I think she is one, I wish someone would explain to America that activist judges come from both ends of the spectrum. I can’t think of anything more activist than the Bush V Gore decision and it was the conservative judges who screwed that pooch.
        All in all maybe she will, like most other judges become very serious about the awesomeness of her new position and realize that it really does matter that she stick strictly to the law.

  9. myiq2xu, on July 15th, 2009 at 11:04 am Said:
    In some ways race and gender shouldn’t affect a judge’s decisions
    i disagree with you on that . they should never ever effect a judges decisions.

    • their decisions. should be made on the rule of law

    • So if a judge is interpreting a law that has the word “reasonable” in it, how do they interpret it without drawing on their own experience?

      And if the judge is a black man or a Asian woman, won’t that affect their experience?

      • no they should not interpret it on there own life experience they need to stick buy they rule of law . until that law is changed

        • What makes you think that the law is spelled out so clearly in every circumstance that the correct decision is self-evident? IT ISN’T. If that were true, judges would be unnecessary.

          The language of law is often full of wiggle room, with opportunities for JUDGES (who are human beings) to decide what THEY think is “fair”, or a “reasonable” search, or an “equitable” distribution, or an “onerous” provision, or a “just” sentence within the guidelines of the law. The wording of the law is not always cut-and-dried.

          Again, that’s why we even need judges. Laws are more general, they do not give a specific response for every conceivable situation, otherwise we’d have even more billions upon billions of specific laws than we do now.

        • But quite often the rule of law requires a judge to decide whether something is reasonable, probable, excessive, and/or outrageous.

          Those are value judgments that require a judge to use their experience – and race and gender affect our experience.

          • Exactly!

          • I’ll ask you once again, myiq. Could you please send me Pips’ email address. Then you’ll never have to read another comment by me again.

          • (jumping in)

            Adminstrators are not authorized to send email addresses to commenters.

            YOU may post your email. Or Pips can post Pips email address. (and we’d be happy to delete them once joined)

            But WE cannot send them out.

          • Okay, but since Myiq closed the thread on which I was conversing with Pips, I’m afraid that she won’t see it.

            Here goes: zippycat (at) erols (dot) com.

            Since I don’t plan to spend time on this site again, maybe you can direct her to this message if she pops up on another thread.

        • We could just have questionnaires with radial buttons, yes and no answers for all elements and let the computer decide each case.

          Ours is a society of humans. It’s impossible to remove that element from our justice system.

    • Boogieman, they do not directly affect, and shouldn’t. But there is no such thing as a non-human judge. If it were merely a matter of running the correct law-algorithms, a computer could preside over court cases.

      Judging involves…..judgement. And like it or not, one’s life experiences (including the experience of being poor, or an immigrant family, or a woman, or a minority, or a RICH WHITE MAN) are part and parcel of how one views life and the law in general. EVERYONE’S race and gender and experiences affects their judgement, in however an indirect way. That doesn’t mean that one ignores the law – of course not! But if you think that the race and gender and even age of 70-year-old white men has ZERO effect on how they view the world, you are sadly mistaken.

      • they put their own personal views aside . & they not to let those views interfere with establish law .

        • they are not put there to impose there own personal views in the Constitution not or any rule of law

          • im saying what a judge should do or in this case a SCOTUS not what what they accutaly do

          • And you are blindly and stubbornly refusing to answer or even consider the valid questions myiq and I have raised.

            Who decides what is “reasonable”? And on what basis do they make that decision? You cannot say “they decide according to what the law says’, because THE LAW ITSELF leaves that JUDGEMENT to the JUDGE.

          • WMCB what leaves that JUDGEMENT to the JUDGE.

          • correction ..WMCB what law leaves that JUDGEMENT to the JUDGE.

          • A lot of them do, boogieman. Read upthread. We gave you several examples.

            Please educate yourself. It would be helpful.

        • Okay, you obviously can’t read. If the law says that a search has to be “reasonable”, but does not specify the definition of “reasonable”, how then is that decision made? If the law says that the cops can stop you if they see “suspicious behavior”, who decides if what you were doing meets the standard of “suspicious”? Who makes that decision? BECAUSE THE LAW DOES NOT SPECIFY every possible example of what constitutes “suspicious”. So who makes that judgement call?

          It’s made by the judge. Who is a human being. Who makes a decision that is influenced by his/her personal understanding of what “reasonable” is, in the context of their experience and understanding.

  10. Of course, we already knew this, but it still burns me up that our Feminist-in-Chief didn’t ask the question.

    Sotomayor declined repeatedly at Senate confirmation hearings Wednesday to disclose her views on abortion rights, and said President Barack Obama never asked her about the issue before he chose her for the bench.

    Obama on choice: “Am I bovvered?”

    • Once again, we get bamboozled. Remember how the Bots said that if we didn’t elect Obama that we were going to have Justice(s) that were going to end up repealing Roe V Wade? So, here we have one who was hand-picked by him but now the question regarding her position on abortion is no longer relevant? That is the shell game at it’s finest.

  11. Money is more of a factor than anything in many courts. O J Simpson’s murder trial comes to mind.
    Actually, we now have a new resident in north carolina, his name is Madoff, we have quite a few big names
    here in prisions. Even if they dont win in court they get these special places to go to serve out their terms.
    People with money get all types of special considerations. Poor Martha Stewart was one of the few rich people whose money didnt seem to matter.
    Bless her heart.

    Im not a lawyer nor do i pretend to know anything about
    how they work. But I do believe that we have a bunch of them in the white house and both congresses. Do you trust them all to go by the rule of law?

    • “Poor Martha Stewart was one of the few rich people whose money didnt seem to matter.”

      What is she, a woman?

      Aren’t there any “fancy” prisons for female inmates?

      Guess we’re not doing enough wrong in a wealthy way. 😦

  12. OT:

    I just read this on my newsfeed:

    Senate Committee Approves Health-Care Reform Bill

    Has anybody read the Senate bill or its outlines?

    What about our resident healthcare scholars, KB and SoD?

    • Wow. I’ll have to hunt for that. I’m sort of afraid to look at what these idiots approved,

    • I got an e-mail that said Obama sold out to the insurance companies and saying it will do next to nothing in reform and leave several millions uninsured.

      They sure went all out to KEEP OUT Single Payer and I must say I am very, very disappointed.

    • Hilda Sarkisyan on MSNBC (The personal stories of a Health Care System that is not working… 1/2 of bankruptcies) SINGLE PAYER was LOCKED OUT OF THE PRECESS!

    • President Obama: Health Reform and America’s Nurses July 15th, 2009

  13. Once again, we get bamboozled. Remember how the Bots said that if we didn’t elect Obama that we were going to have Justice(s) that were going to end up repealing Roe V Wade? So, here we have one who was hand-picked by him but now the question regarding her position on abortion is no longer relevant? That is the shell-game at it’s finest.

  14. OT : MSNBC is finally showing the feed of Hillary’s speech.

  15. I am glad they are challenging her on her statement about the wise latina and all other issues. I know Senators are grandstanding but we are also hearing her present information and arguments—-and doing that well imo. This should happen. As a matter of fact it usually does happen. But as I listen to some of the Repubs get dumb i am only reminded of how dumb some of the Dems sounded in the Roberts and Alito hearings. We have politics of by and for dummies and the Repubs are no worse and no better in their public questioning and antics than the Dems. It is equal opportunity, politics by and for dummies.

    • Samuel Alito was able to tout his Italian American background and his empathy as a good thing. I don’t remember Democrats or Republicans finding it so “troubling” that Alito said he was stopping to personalize his cases as a grandson of immigrants, as a father, as someone who has people in his own family who have suffered discrimination, etc.

      Sonia Sotomayor is being publicly chastised for embracing her heritage and her womanhood as things that don’t detract from her experience but rather enhance it.

      • Yup. Empathy in a man is good. Empathy in a woman is suspect as “being controlled by emotions”.

        The influence of the hormone testosterone has probably done more to do historical damage than the influence of estrogen ever has, but only women are called “hormonal”.

        I think I’m going to steal the word, and every time a man gets all puffed-up and strutting I’m going to refer to him as “hormonal”. Don’t get all hormonal, guys.

  16. I just checked into the hearing and Jeff Sessions is STILL talking about “wise Latina”?


    • He’s got a thing for a wise latina. Well, we all have our fantasies.

    • WOW, they are afraid ‘the wise Latina’ will affirm same sex marriage ALL by herself. 😆 I hate to break it to them but their ‘elitism’ is showing.

      • ZOMG, the Wise Latina will emasculate us all!! She hates men! She’ll outlaw Viagra! She’ll make us pay child support! Run for the hills!

        It really is making them look like such fearful idiots. I mean, really, the woman is not perfect, but it is possible to discuss her potential legal activism without acting like a bunch of peevish outraged wankers, all bewildered and aghast and taking to their fainting couches at the very notion that they might not be universally ASSUMED to be the pinnacle of civilization.

        The Repubs are not doing themselves any favors here.

    • They’d be so much better off going back to discussing nunchucks. Any threat to martial arts weapons will completely alienate 90% of Obama’s gamer wannabe base.

    • He can’t quite grasp the concept, can he? Sessions is thinking:
      Wise Latina? WTF? Is that an oxymoron, like gay marriage or equal rights?

      Just like Einstein’s definition of insanity … he keeps asking the same ol’ questions and expecting a different result.

  17. OT —

    I know Huffpo linking to dkos is not the most reliable sourcing, but it is what it is…

    LEAKED: More Than Fifty House Progressives Privately Commit To Oppose Weak Health Care Bill


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