Sotomayor Hearing Open Thread.

Supreme Court Sotomayor
I’ve been home sick for the last three days and I’ve spent much of that time with tissue stuffed up my left nostril and my browser pointed to, where they are live-streaming the boring, painful, and occasionally entertaining Sotomayor hearings. Between sneezing, wishing boils on Jeff Sessions, and a pox on Lindsay Graham, I’ve been keeping up with a few entertaining Twitter feeds (including friends of the blog Adam Serwer and Dr. Bitch) and instant messaging my rage to Jamelle, UniverseExpanding, and G.D.

Today, though, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-WTF?) took the cake. As Adam tweeted earlier: “Dammit Coburn, Sotomayor is not your law professor.” Coburn asked question after question, seemingly trying to get at Sotomayor’s personal opinion on abortion and gun rights. She thwarted him, explaining repeatedly, exactly what a justice is supposed to do. (Hint: it’s not “make decisions based on how I feel about it.”)

Sotomayor has superhuman patience, and well knows what she’s talking about. There’s also been no hint of that spicy Latina temper we’ve heard so much about, despite the frustrating, condescending lines of questioning coming from the GOP senators. And even when she’s getting softballs from the Dems, she still answers in a thoughtful, measured way — I actually see many similarities between her and Obama.

Right now, we’re on a break and Jeff Sessions is complaining that Sotomayor’s answers aren’t “clear.” I couldn’t disagree more. She is perhaps being opaque about her personal views, but she’s being clear about her decisions and how she has come by them.

I have a few favorite moments from the last few days, and few where I would love nothing more than to hurl a shoe at my laptop. What about you?

17 thoughts on “Sotomayor Hearing Open Thread.

  1. dave July 15, 2009 at 11:24 am Reply

    Sotomayor is not being clear, she is dodging the questions by claiming she can only think as a judge and judges only deal with precedent and established law. She is doing all she can to give the impression she will not use “empathy” in her decisions or legislate from the bench. I read the transcript of Coburns session, and it was frustrating. Sotomayor said a lot of words which can all be replaced by “I can’t answer that”. Apparently she can think outside the “judges box” when speaking to the ACLU or Bekeley, but not today.

    • G.D. July 15, 2009 at 11:38 am Reply

      Dave, this is how these things go. Roberts and Alito did the same thing, pretending that they’d never considered the validity of Roe v. Wade and saying they wouldn’t opine on it lest the issue come beofer the court. At Scalia’s confirmation hearings, he dodged a question on whether Marbury v. Madison was settled law — an easy question, since it had been for over 170 years at that point.

    • quadmoniker July 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm Reply

      Yeah, G.D.’s right. It’s always frustrating because prospective justices find polite ways to dodge questions, and senators ask questions they know the prospective justice can’t answer. It’s all annoying theater, and it’s just about trying to get her to actually answer a question so they can say, see, she has predetermined views and wouldn’t look at the facts of the case.

  2. shani-o July 15, 2009 at 1:18 pm Reply

    I’m really confused by this exchange between Specter and Sotomayor. Damn ex-Republicans.

  3. R. July 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm Reply

    I caught a couple of hours of it and it did make me want to throw a shoe or three at Jeff Sessions. If you’ve ever sat through any one of these before I don’t know how you could complain about the process, tis your standard fare (other than the constant condescension by Republicans), although I’d say its has a lot of the Roberts’ confirmation sense of inevitability.

    Personally, I’d rather have the hearings filtered thru the Daily Show, its far more entertaining.

  4. G.D. July 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm Reply

    Graham’s questioning yesterday was so dripping with condescension that he easily did more damage to himself than to her.

  5. blackink12 July 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Unfortunately, I’ve been tied up at work and have missed most of the hearing. Most of what I’ve seen came on the cable news shows later that night.

    But more than anything, what’s striking to me is that genuinely bright lights like Sotomayor and Obama will never be considered qualified enough in some precincts. It doesn’t matter if you get into and excel at Ivy League institutions and go on to establish your bonafides in the legal field.

    Because what it really comes down to is whether or not you might have ever benefitted from affirmative action, or if you ever dared to volunteer your services with community-building organizations like ACORN or the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

    But Sarah Palin – of all people – is absolutely qualified to serve as president, of course.

    It’s really, really insulting.

    • Leigh July 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm Reply

      I haven’t been following the hearings at all and am just catching 2nd hand coverage of them. But what I am finding interesting about this latest round of “AFFIRMATIVE ACTION MINORITIES ARE UNQUALIFIED AND STEALING OUR JOBS” bullsh*t is how it is juxtaposed with some conversations I’ve been having or reading with older women in the professions. In Ginsberg’s interview in the NYT last weekend, she talks about how she was an AA beneficiary. We have a senior econ prof here at my school who’s a woman and repeatedly referenced AA as she was retelling us about her career experience as a woman in academia.

      In all honesty, I was kind of surprised by these white women acknowledging AA on their careers because it’s become such a boogeyman about race/ethnicity that I’d forgotten or didn’t realize that they might have been its beneficiaries in the past. Do you think as a nation we’ve forgotten that white women have also benefited from AA and do you think we as a country think it’s ok that they have? I’m just curious cuz I’d love to see how Sessions and the rest of the histrionic racists in the GOP would react. Certainly Clinton was dogged by the idea that she wasn’t qualified in her own right to lead, that she was just Bill’s wife…


      • G.D. July 15, 2009 at 5:24 pm Reply

        right. Ginsburg was sort of like, “yeah, i got into Columbia because they wanted a woman and a black man.” she was unapologetic about it.

        As unsurprising and insulting as their questioning has been, it sort of illustrates how smart the pick was: Obama picked someone who was really safe, who didn’t give the opposition much to chew on. they’re reverting to form because they can’t do much else, and like other Obama decisions, the overwrought GOP response has been self-defeating, as their poll numbers among Latinos have fallen since she was announced as the pick.

      • shani-o July 15, 2009 at 5:43 pm Reply

        I’ve heard it said that white women have been the primary beneficiaries of the current form of affirmative action (white men being the primary beneficiaries of old school AA). Now, I’m not sure how quantifiable that is, but white women and AA is a pairing that people often forget about.

        • G.D. July 15, 2009 at 6:25 pm Reply

          “old school AA”?

          • shani-o July 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm Reply

            Bad joke.

            • Winslowalrob July 15, 2009 at 8:27 pm Reply

              When Affirmative Action was White by Katznelson. I do not agree with all of it, but its a great history nonetheless.

        • Leigh July 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm Reply

          Yeah, listening to these older women has made me realize (again) that I don’t know history very well.

          • bitchphd July 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm Reply

            I, too, have heard it said that white women are the major beneficiaries of AA. Certainly in education that’s clearly the case, as white women now outnumber white men in higher ed.

            Lest we forget, there are also programs that explicitly reach out to/benefit white men. Veteran’s programs, legacy programs, athletics programs–they’ve all been around for a long time. And none of them are controversial, really. Also, the move to replace race-conscious AA with class-conscious AA also benefits white men (not exclusively).

    • ladyfresh July 15, 2009 at 5:08 pm Reply

      It’s really, really insulting.

      it burns my britches

  6. ladyfresh July 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm Reply

    i missed it today
    doesn’t sounds like the repubs are winning the gotcha game yet
    go sotomayor

    in a general sense
    not the specific ‘i’m under the impression she is a wild liberal and will shake up the SC sense’
    i know that’s not happening

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