Confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor begin today, and all the signs are that Senate Judiciary Committee conservatives will give the judge a hard enough time to placate their activist base, but not enough to risk a Hispanic voter backlash, much less confirmation itself.
According to Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Sotomayor’s confirmation is being planned by Democrats according to:
[A] streamlined, no-drama strategy modeled on the flawless performance of Chief Justice John Roberts back in 2005. Roberts bedeviled Democrats by deflecting questions about his judicial philosophy with the law school equivalent of Greenspan-speak, the art of saying virtually nothing in the most expansive language possible.
“Roberts is our gold standard,” conceded one Democratic aide.
Republicans, on the other hand, are expected to let their ranking Judiciary Committee Senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, serve as what Thrust calls a “crash-test dummy:”
Sessions has politely but passionately pursued an all-fronts attack on the nominee.
He’s implied that she’ll let her personal feelings interfere with strict constitutional interpretations, blasted her ruling in the New Haven firefighters case and questioned her commitment to the Second Amendment based on a decision to uphold a local New York law banning the use of a Bruce Lee-type nunchuka.
In a Friday interview with conservative columnist Byron York, Sessions described the aforementioned issues as “huge,” “serious” and “monumental,” and he vowed to be tough, tough, tough.
“If a judge is not committed to setting aside their sympathies and prejudices and background biases when they take the bench, then they shouldn’t sit on any bench,” he said.
The GOP’s other legal sharpshooters on the committee — Utah’s Orrin Hatch, Arizona’s Jon Kyl, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Texan John Cornyn — are watching Sessions to see if the attacks work or if Sessions comes across as badgering, bullying or mean-spirited, GOP sources say.
If he bombs, they’ll likely raise their issues politely, praise Sotomayor’s attributes, vote against her in committee and hope they haven’t antagonized a rapidly growing Latino electorate that already views Republicans with suspicion.
If Sotomayor is careful, and if no Anita Hill-style bombshell occurs, the most pain the nominee may feel on her way to confirmation may well be due to the ankle she recently fractured.
UPCATEGORY: Democratic Strategist