Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings, Day 2, Part IV

Schumer up. Going to follow up on Sessions and Kyl. 

Schumer: Let’s talk about your 17 years of being a judge. No colleague has referred to a case where you tried to change the law. So if a colleague looks at a few snippets rather than your extensive record, colleagues attempting to say you’d put empathy above rule of law. What having empathy means, then turn to record. Commit to rule of law?

SS: Can make and have made for 17 years.

Schumer: One would expect most sympathetic plaintiffs would win. Tragic TWA crash. Sued manufacturers of airplane. Did you have sympathy for the families?

SS: Absolutely. 

Schumer: Ruled against them.

SS: Didn’t author majority opinion. Dissent suggested that court should have followed existing law. 

Schumer: Appropriate scheme for reimbursement off US coast legislative issue. How a judge should rule. How’d you feel?

SS: One in as tragic situation, personal sense of regret but personal senses cannot command results in case. 

Schumer; I guess I don’t have to ask you whether you’re a Mets or Yankees fan?

Leahy: You’d better not let her answer or the Chair will have to vote against her.

[Schumer calls her Scalia, not Sotomayor, saying she should root for the Red Sox.]

Graham: My problem is that the cases you’ve been involved in are left of center but nothing that jumps out at me, but your speeches. I keep talking about your speeches because otherwise I have to admit you’re a boring, hugely qualified judge.

SS: I don’t use labels.

Graham: When Justice Rehnquist said he was a strict constructionist, did you know what he meant? Will you please label yourself so I can show how that means you’re not Rehnquist?

[SS torturing Lindsey because she refuses to label herself or the Constitution. Next up, Graham refuses to let pictures be released.]

Graham: Do you think Roe v Wade changed society?

SS: I think Roe v Wade looked at the Constitution and applied it.

Graham: Does the Constitution as written prohibit a legislative body from defining life?

SS: Word abortion not used in Constitution but it has a broad provision.

Lindsey, thinking he’s very clever, "And that gets us to the speeches." And on and on and on and on. That’s what drives us here. Balls and strikes. A lot of us feel that the best way to change society is to go to ballot box. A lot of the rest of us stacked the courts and don’t want to lose the advantage.

Lindsey: You’re as much of an asshole as Nino Scalia and Sam Alito, but you’re a girl. What is your answer to these criticisms?

SS: I ask tough questions at oral arguments. 

Lindsey: If I may interject Judge, do you think you have a temperament problem. 

Lindsey: I’m afraid that minorities and women will invade the Court and change the law.

SS: I understand how you can misread my wise Latina comment if you read it out of context.

Lindsey: What would a woman’s life be like if [al Qaeda] controlled the world?

Lindsey: Do you believe we are at war?

SS: 10s of thousands of soldiers in battlefield in Iraq. 

Lindsey: Familiar with military law?

[He’s going to sneak a military detention question on her.]

Lindsey: [Yup] If you capture an enemy is it your understanding that you have to let them go.

Lindsey: Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund. Familiar with their briefs taxpayer funded abortion?

SS: No. 

Lindsey: Deny taxpayer funded abortion, deny that form of slavery. Do you agree with that?

SS: Let me explain the function of a board member.

Durbin: Two previous nominees are white males. When we ask questions of white male candidates of Republican president. Trying to make sure understand they’d go far enough in understanding plight of minorities. Will you go too far in focusing on minorities? One or two speeches, you’ve given 500. Pretty good track record. Over 3000 cases. Ricci case, focus of more than any other attention.

Durbin: Death penalty. Becoming Justice Blackmun.  Famous line, From this day forward I no longer will tinker with the machinery of death. 20 years death penalty imposed fairly or not at all.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. AZ Matt says:

    Schumer playing a take-away from the GOP’ers with his questions about dealing with decisions vs. sympathy.

  2. jayt says:

    How’d you feel?

    He’s asked that a couple of times now.

    Chuck is sounding like a cheap psychologist….

    • BoxTurtle says:

      They don’t care, the GOPers have their own problems. They have to feed their base while not offending the growing numbers of hispanic voters. They know she’s going to be confirmed and in fact I’d bet some western GOPers will vote for her and they wouldn’t if it was going to be anywhere close.

      Boxturtle (Filibuster?!? *giggle*)

  3. LabDancer says:

    SCOTUS candidates ought not to exaggerate their credentials: its the Nationals … not the “Senators”.

    This error would be fatal to her chances, were it the case that the Refuddlicans knew a damn thing about baseball

    • tejanarusa says:

      Yeah, well, that’s generational. The D.C. team was the Senators, for many years, including the judge’s formative years (and mine).

  4. tejanarusa says:

    Uh-oh, Huckleberry up.
    Sounds like a re-run of Kyl. I may have to cut away for awhile. Only so much a sane person can take.
    (EW, our thanks again for taking on this duty so we don’t have to)

    uh-oh, “legal realism” = “touchy-feely”

  5. LabDancer says:

    Refuddlican Senator up … lemme look at the program … unit name Graham, Lindsay; titular home South Carolina … here we go:

  6. tejanarusa says:

    “the Constitution as written”?
    What a stupid question.
    Anolther hit for the base.

    Wha??? “that gets us to the speeches?”

  7. WTFOver says:


    CIA faces hostile scrutiny as details of ‘dark’ programmes are revealed

    • Congressional calls for formal investigation mount
    • Agency officials believe they’re caught up in political war…

    The CIA’s critics say that it is coming under belated scrutiny over its submission to a highly political and possibly illegal agenda that its officials embraced with enthusiasm in the febrile atmosphere after the 9/11 attacks, when the Bush administration thought it could throw out the rule book by declaring the Geneva conventions out of date and redefining long established parameters for torture.

    Even where questionable practices were declared legal by the administration, they remained of dubious morality such as the practice of kidnapping suspected terrorists and flying them half way around the world to be tortured and interrogated, known as rendition.

    Some former CIA officers, including the former counter-terrorism chief of operations, Vincent Cannistraro, say the agency involved itself in suspect practices as it rode roughshod over long established restraints.

    “There were things the agency was involved with after 9/11 which were basically over the edge because of 9/11. There were some very unsavoury things going on. Now they are a problem for the CIA,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on the CIA now and it’s going to handicap future activities.”

    • Nola Sue says:

      Question for the game show judges: Does it count when Huckleberry says “LatinO woman”?

      Oh, drink anyway!

  8. AZ Matt says:

    Saint Lindsey has a few issues himself like I am against torture except when Bush does it.

  9. beth meacham says:

    Huckleberry, Judge Sotomeyor is NOT in politics.

    He’s trying to rattle her. Trying to push her temper.

  10. Mary says:

    It would have been so nice if, when Graham had snitted out his, “A lot of us feel that the best way to change society is to go to ballot box.” spiel someone had piped up with, “I never knew you disagreed with Bush v. Gore Sen. Graham – so you think Al Gore should have been President and the Supreme Court should have stayed out of it? Interesting.”

  11. Petrocelli says:

    No Lindsay, no one thought that you of all people would bring up enemy combatants and giving BushCo a free pass on torture …

  12. tejanarusa says:

    Oh, God, PRLDEF up. Unbe-fu*king-lievable.

    Particularly the tone Huckleberry’s using.
    Oh God, it’s not just “radical portorikans,”, it’s abortion!

  13. beth meacham says:

    Lindsey, the same Geneva Convention that says that you can hold enemy combatants indefinitely also says that you can’t mistreat them in any way.

    Are you sure you want to eat that cake?

  14. tejanarusa says:

    Does he really think board members read all the briefs? Sheesh.
    Oooh, huckleberry getting testy. As if.

    Hey, Huck, exaggeration/hyperbole/extremism in defense of liberty [of women, too!] is no vice!

    Gawd, I have to hit the mute button again.

  15. RagingGurrlNYC says:

    Lindsey sez lawyers don’t like her, they say she’s a bully. What an ass.
    I’ve had a crew member call me a bully just because I asked him to do his job.

    If you’re a woman, it doesn’t take much, Lindsey. If you’re assertive, you are characterized as aggressive, if you speak up, you’re a troublemaker.
    What little world does Lindsey live in that he’d have no understanding of how women in positions of authority are perceived in this country? His knickers are in a twist about Islam’s view of women – how about your fellow Christians, huck? And why aren’t there Republican women on this committee?

    • tejanarusa says:

      If you’re a woman, it doesn’t take much, Lindsey. If you’re assertive, you are characterized as aggressive, if you speak up, you’re a troublemaker.
      What little world does Lindsey live in that he’d have no understanding of how women in positions of authority are perceived in this country? His knickers are in a twist about Islam’s view of women – how about your fellow Christians, huck? And why aren’t there Republican women on this committee?

      WORD, Gurrrl.

      • Nola Sue says:

        Yep. Credit to BJ-hater Tamron Hall (sp?) on MSNBC for pointing that out. Bringing up Graham’s concerns about her being “hot blooded” and emotional.

    • Rayne says:

      And when they aren’t calling a woman aggressive or a troublemaker to her face, they’re calling her a bitch behind her back. Half of what these goopers are saying to her face is code for “bitch”.

      Or in Judge Sotomayor’s case, “brown bitch”.

      So much for those good Christian white men of the Republican persuasion.

  16. Nola Sue says:

    I’ve been in and out. Did the TV mods interrupt Graham? I don’t recall it — but by all means, lets cut off Durbin.

  17. tejanarusa says:

    Cripes, Huckelberry says “we’ll have a chance to discuss your life more.”
    Please, tell me no.
    Does he expect her to read all PRLDEF’s briefs from 30 yrs ago tonight?

    Temperament — he ought to read Judge Ginzburg’s comments from the Times Mag tonight.
    Ludicrous man.
    Repeating what EW said about Kyl – these ol’ white guys are really afraid of her and women and minorities again.

    • dakine01 says:

      Cripes, Huckelberry says “we’ll have a chance to discuss your life more.”

      Well probably better than having Miss Lindsay talk about his life instead.

  18. RagingGurrlNYC says:

    Uh oh – he’s going after the Puerto Ricans now! ¡Pendejo!

    BTW: Abortion is legal, Lindsey.
    And a disproportionate amount of minorities are sentenced to death.
    Look it up.

  19. bobschacht says:

    My Filipina wife looked at a few minutes of the questioning (dunno who) of SS, and reported to me that she thought the questions sounded degrading and insulting. My guess is that it was Graham or Kyl or some other Repub idjit who just kissed off the Hispanic vote for 2010. The Republican Party will become the last refuge of White Anglo-Saxon Males who just can’t adjust to the 21st Century.

    BTW, here’s my latest 30-second speech: Unless you have a Black family member or friend, and a Hispanic family member or friend, and an Asian family member or friend, you are part of the Old America.

    Bob in HI

    • Petrocelli says:

      B-bu-but that’s simply not true … Huckleberry is all for more women sharin’ power, just not this one, which he has affirmed he will vote for !

      *whew, that cleared it up*

  20. Helga says:

    Someone should have told Graham to shut up, his time was over before he started asking his questions. I am still hearing Sam Seder say shut the door. Where is Sam when we really need him?

  21. RagingGurrlNYC says:

    It’s sickening to listen to Republicans during this hearing – I certainly hope someone is planning to incorporate their idiotic questions into campaign ads against them in 2010.
    They can kiss the Latina vote goodbye.

    • LabDancer says:

      … but they’ve managed to sew up the coveted Estrada sliver, and make inroads into the Latin hard-ass prick vote.

      Did I just write what I think I wrote? My deepest apologies: that should have been machismo hard-ass prick vote.

    • Rayne says:

      I shudder to think what they are saying at Freeperville, given the absolutely disgusting behavior they’ve exhibited in the past about any woman or girl on this side of the ideological fence, from Hillary Clinton to Malia Obama.

      Far too many people have said to me in the last 6 months that racism and sexism don’t exist; one needs only take walk through Freeperville to be set straight.

  22. Petrocelli says:

    … and at the Wire, Sessions wins the Dickhead of the Day Award by a Nose … followed by the favorites, Graham and Kyl in a dead heat …

    • nonplussed says:

      Wait until you are treated to the antics of John “Question of the Day” Cornyn of Texas and “Crazy Lips” Coburn of Oklahoma, who have yet to interrogate the Judge. Think about it, Texas and Oklahoma.

      Truth be told, I admire her “Judicial Restraint”. She didn’t tell Graham what a waste of skin he is and she concentrated on her legal pad, rather than look at him. With his “unelected judges” and “political decisions” talk, he reminded me uncomfortably of Cornyn’s infamous statements on the Senate floor:

      “It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions,” he said. Sometimes, he said, “the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.

      I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence.”

      • tejanarusa says:

        I think I will be skipping or muting the Cornyn and Coburn portions of tomorrow’s festivities. Rather read than listen to them….hard to speed-listen past the nonsense.

        OTOH, it might be interesting to hear Cornyn – which way will he go? He has said some conciliatory things about Sotomayor – which given the ethnic makeup of his constituency (he’s from San Antonio, too), he damn well oughta.

        Possibly relevant – Roger Simon told Tweety that Graham was being tough an ahole today because “Rush Limbaugh beat him up” for saying something mildly moderate about SS.
        The best part — Tweety comes back with accusing Simon of being “condescending” to Huckleberry – how dare he suggest that Sen. Huckleberry “takes orders from Limbaugh.” He then talked over Simon, who seemed astonished that Tweety was astonished.

  23. tejanarusa says:

    Had to click away from here a little while – Klobuchar looking good on post-hearing C-span.

    Klobuchar: “judges wouldn’t be good judges if they didn’t question” Quotes Ginsburg: “Have you seen Scalia or Breyer up on the bench?”

    • Neil says:

      Could you question a person with the intent to make them look bad, for political gain, and still show respect or would you have to denigrate them in your own mind first in order to justify it?

      • bobschacht says:

        You’re not acquainted with advanced forms of sophistry, are you?
        I think the British are probably best at this, somewhat like Zorro was best with the rapier: You think you’re doing OK in the duel until you discover that somehow your pants have fallen down around your ankles.

        But these are the days of mass media, and that kind of skillful demolition is too subtle for most viewers, who seem to prefer the ham-fisted approach

        Bob in HI

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know about you, but all the gay men in my life lecture me, too.

      They nag at me and tell I need to get my hair done; I should do something different with the living room furniture, or I should consider wearing something other than whatever I’m wearing at the moment. You know, trying to out-queen this queen even if meant with the best of intentions.

      Wish Lindsey would just get out of his high closet and quit trying to out-queen la honorable Señora Juez Sotomayor. Having what is the deepest amount of experience any nominee has ever had, she’s la reina and he can’t touch her. Or maybe that’s what’s pissing him off.

      • tejanarusa says:

        she’s la reina and he can’t touch her. Or maybe that’s what’s pissing him off.

        Ding, ding!

  24. Twain says:

    There’s a real possibility that I’m just stupid but I don’t get all this hand wringing over her being from PR. You would think from the way they act that she is from Mars. Why don’t they understand that she is and has always been an American? They certainly wouldn’t do this if her parents had immigrated here from Denmark or Finland. Why are they allowed to get way with this?

    • tejanarusa says:

      Twain, I know you had no ill intent, but please be more careful – Judge Sotomayor is not from Puerto Rico – her parents are.
      She was born in New York.

      Of course, you are right – even if she had been born on the island, she would still be a U.S. citizen, as her parents were.

      Many people do not realize that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many senators were among them.

      • Twain says:

        Sorry. I had read that her parents came here when she was a small child. It certainly doesn’t matter – she’s a citizen and that’s that.

  25. tejanarusa says:

    Bullseye – applicable exactly by party.

    Maybe it’s just me, but the tone of the three notorious idjits/racists – Kyl, Sessions, Graham – was past “tough questioning” and on to “tendentious hateful.”

    to bobschacht – I think your wife is right. I certainly hope they’ve lost the Latina vote forever. (see, further, RaginGurrlNYC above)

  26. WTFOver says:

    Seymour Hersh was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins. Now, he talks about the next shoe to drop.…..ys-secret/

    Some observers accused him of rumor-mongering and a top former military official threw cold water on the story, but with the recent news that the CIA allegedly kept Congress in the dark on a covert program, Hersh’s words suddenly look more and more prescient. Yesterday, the New York Times reported the hidden program in question was a death squad authorized by Dick Cheney without Congressional approval.

  27. Raven says:

    she’s not FROM Puerto Rico. Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent, and was born in the Bronx.

        • tejanarusa says:

          Fresca? ewwww, but, okay….slidin’ one Fresca muy fresquita down the bar at’cha….

            • tejanarusa says:

              Oh, I wasn’t criticizing your non-beer/wine/booze choice, just the (shudder) Fresca.
              Sorry, very biased of me…I haven’t tried one in decades. I do drink diet colas; probably the last time I drank a Fresca it was sweetened with saccharine.
              I should be less prejudiced about beverages, I know.

              • Raven says:

                Not at all, I take no offense. I ran at a hard pace for 30 years and by some simple twist of fate was able to put it all down. No judgment, no religion just livin da vida loca!

                    • tejanarusa says:

                      Oooh, I saw some beauties at Brackenridge Park Sunday. Just driving through myself, but one particular mid-60’s Impala looked better than when Impalas were new (and everywhere). Not specially into the craft myself, but they sure do make those cars gorgeous.

  28. Raven says:

    Nuyorican is a blending of the terms ”New York” and ”Puerto Rican” and refers to the members or culture of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around New York State especially the New York City metropolitan area, or of their descendants (especially those raised or still living in the New York area). The term is also used by Boricuas (Puerto Ricans from Puerto Rico) to differentiate those of Puerto Rican descent from the Puerto Rico-born. The term Nuyorican is also sometimes used to refer to the Spanish spoken by New York Puerto Ricans. An estimated 800,000 Nuyoricans are said to live in New York city, the largest Puerto Rican community outside Puerto Rico. Nuyoricans are not considered Puerto Ricans by island Puerto Ricans due to cultural differences, this is very controversial amongst both groups of Puerto Ricans.[1] Ethnic enclaves centered around Puerto Ricans include Spanish Harlem, Manhattan and the South Bronx.

    In 2009, Judge Sonia Sotomayor considers herself ’Nuyorican’ and has stated that these roots shaped the individual who she is.[2]

    • tejanarusa says:

      Verdad! Attitudes between Mexicans from Mexico and Mexican-Americans are often very similar.

      Hey, Raven, you’re old enough – do you remember the NuyoRican Poets of the ’70’s? Still have a volume tucked away on my bookshelf somewhere…

      • Raven says:

        I’m down a bit with Pinero, have to say I’m not a big poetry dude. Now Tito Puente. . .

        When I was in the Army the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans really didn’t get along. My best pal was Natividad Espinosa from San Antone!

        • tejanarusa says:

          Ahh. Too much of that still. My sister-in-law (Mexican-American, San Antonio bred and born) expressed disappointment some years ago when Rita Moreno won some award (which one escapes me now), because she’s Puerto Rican, not Mexican. She couldn’t get completely on board with Rita for that reason.
          My husband, let me make plain, was completely disgusted with his sister.
          He makes no distinctions of that sort, especially when up against the majority. ; )

          • Raven says:

            Academy Award, West Side Story

            “I’d like to go back to San Juan
            I know a boat you can get on”!

            • tejanarusa says:

              No, this was much more recent than the Oscar, or the film. Some public service thing, or maybe even an award for Latinas (forget what they’re called) in public life.

              • Rayne says:

                Bet you’re thinking of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That one kind of made me scratch my head, too, but hey, it was the least of the bizarre things that George Bush did during his administration.

          • Rayne says:

            It’s funny, but this is parallel with Asian cultures, even within subcultures. My darker-skinned friend from Hong Kong said the lighter skinned people from mainland China looked down on her. Don’t even get a Korean, or a Japanese, or a Chinese started on the other two groups…

            But they do have shared interests, particularly when in a majority white culture like the U.S. where they are lumped together as “Asian”.

            Ditto for Latin/Hispanic peoples.

            • bobschacht says:

              It’s funny, but this is parallel with Asian cultures, even within subcultures. My darker-skinned friend from Hong Kong said the lighter skinned people from mainland China looked down on her. Don’t even get a Korean, or a Japanese, or a Chinese started on the other two groups…

              Ya. Even within the country. Filipinoy who are light-skinned (e.g. Visayan) may not socialize much with their darker fellow citizens, even if to an American they all look the same. My wife is afraid of spending too much time in the sun because she’ll get “too dark.” But what happened? Her Filipina daughter married a black guy, and had two kids who would be regarded as “Black” in most of the U.S.– and the kinky-haired younger grandchild is now my wife’s favorite. Go figure. The better you get to know someone, the less their skin color matters.

              Bob in HI

  29. tejanarusa says:

    hey, it was the least of the bizarre things that George Bush did during his administration.


    I don’t think that was it, but my memory ain’t that clear that far back. But you’re right, Rita sure deserves an MOF lots more than most of George’s choices.