This morning, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 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.
Sessions, a former prosecutor and attorney general in his home state, was nominated to serve as a federal judge by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Maybe he’s just bitter that he was denied a seat on the federal bench by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 9–9 vote which deemed him “grossly insensitive” on racial issues. During his own hearings, Sessions admitted to “frequently joking in an off-color sort of way.” Looks like not much has changed.
TP’s Ian Millhiser is live-blogging today’s hearings. Check out his coverage here.
During his questioning, Sessions said he wished Sotomayor acted more like Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, who “believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices.” “My friend Judge Cedarbaum is here,” Sotomayor responded, to Sessions’ apparent surprise. For her part, Cedarbaum told the WSJ, “I don’t believe for a minute that there are any differences in our approach to judging, and her personal predilections have no effect on her approach to judging.”
,Yglesias writes, “I would pay good money to hear Sonia Sotomayor say, ‘Senator Sessions, I think it’s ironic to be facing these questions from a man whose judicial nomination was rejected by this very committee on the grounds that he’s a huge racist.’”