This week, the Wonk Room will live blog Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. As expected, conservatives spent yesterday’s session claiming that Sotomayor is incapable of “impartiality,” especially in matters related to race. We’re still waiting for them to cite an actual case suggesting that this claim is true, however. We will be updating this thread throughout the day.
5:30: CAPAF’s statement on day two is up. Here is a taste:
Today, at Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing, Sessions wondered aloud how Sotomayor could have voted differently than another judge of “Puerto Rican ancestry.”
So it is very odd that conservatives would choose Sessions as their point person on the Sotomayor nomination. At best this choice is laughably tone deaf. At worst it shows that Senate conservatives wholeheartedly embrace Sessions’ views on race.
It is crystal clear, however, that Sessions is the architect of the conservative strategy against Sotomayor. In a campaign that echoes Lee Atwater’s infamous Willie Horton ad and Jesse Helms’ “white hands” ad, today’s attacks on Sotomayor have focused almost exclusively on race. Nevermind that conservatives have only uncovered one case in Sotomayor’s record, Ricci v. DeStefano, which supposedly supports their claim that Sotomayor is biased against white men. And nevermind that Sotomayor simply followed a 1984 precedent which is nearly identical to Ricci when she decided that case. Apparently conservatives believe the facts must take a backseat to race-baiting.
5:27: Hearing now in recess until tomorrow @ 9:30.
5:24: Leahy announces that questions will resume in the morning. After every Senator has gone, the committee will go into a closed session to discuss Sotomayor’s FBI background check and similar information, and your humble blogger will take a much needed break.
5:11: Durbin quotes an unnamed SCOTUS justice who told him that “our system of correction and incarceration . . . has to be the worst” (Senator Webb has made similar statements about the need to fix America’s overincarceration problem). Also takes aim at the crack/powder disparity, which one federal judge said “makes the war on drugs look like a ‘war on minorities.’ “ As originally enacted, the crack/powder disparity causes 5 grams of crack to be punished exactly the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine.
5:03: Durbin highlights case where Sotomayor upheld the death penalty against a constitutional challenge. Apparently, even if she does disagree with the death penalty personally, as Graham claims, she also understands how to follow the law.
4:52: Graham hitting Sotomayor on a letter she signed in 1981. Does he want to ask her about her sixth grade book reports as well?
4:50: Shhhhhh . . . Senator Grassley is sleeping.
4:47: Graham is now playing guilt by association, asking her about briefs written by attorneys at an organization she was on the board of. Sotomayor responds, “I never read those briefs.” Her primary duty as a board member was fundraising; she did not supervise their attorneys.
4:41: Graham: America discriminates against the poor white man by not letting him claim that they are better than minorities.
4:33: Graham calls Sotomayor a “bully” on the bench, claiming that lawyers “find you difficult and challenging.” If Graham doesn’t like judges who bully, he must have voted against CJ Roberts, and he must hate Justice Scalia, right?
4:30: Graham: the existence of the Due Process Clause proves that your speeches are bad. Huh? Also claims that the Constitution contains “no written prohibition that you can’t pray in school.” Of course the Supreme Court has never said that children can’t pray in school. The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t tell them how to pray, and the “written prohibition” on official government prayer is the First Amendment, which bans laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”
4:27: Graham makes a funny: “Don’t become a speech writer if this law thing doesn’t work out.”
4:19: Dissenting in the judge-for-sale case, Justice Scalia cited the Talmud. Why does Justice Scalia want us to be ruled by unelected Rabbis?
4:15: Sotomayor rebuffs conservative claims that she thinks that foreign law governs the U.S. Constitution. No one believes that it does, but that hasn’t stopped Sessions from spreading his made-up claim that Sotomayor wants to turn the U.S. courts over to France.