Are we ready for some live action from the Sotomayor hearings, dear readers? Though late to the starting line, the above-signed blogress can smell the eloquence lingering in the air ... a remnant, presumably, of the last hour's Senatorial pronouncements. Keep refreshing your browser (and then scroll down) for updates as they roll in.
11:13: Sen. Feingold has finished a protracted story using the illustrative device of small-town Wisconsin. Minority Whip Senator Jon Kyl takes the floor. Makes polite case for why Judge Sotomayor is a dangerous breed, and certain to decide cases based on her gut feeling. Sotomayor looks like she might like to benchslap Kyl, but offers uncomfortable smile instead.
11:19: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) makes no effort to affect authentic, rolling pronunciation of the name "Sotomayor." Schumer makes sideways jab at Justice Alito and his "record number of dissents." Sotomayor blinks furiously without moving her body. Is she communicating an appropriate message to Chuck? Schumer launches into Justice Roberts-inspired baseball analogy. Pronounces Judge Sotomayor "judicially modest." Camera pans to Sotomayor, smiling modestly.
11:21: Senator Leahy sounds like he may have taken a pre-hearing Benadryl.
11:23: Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) assures Judge Sotomayor that she will be confirmed unless she has a total "meltdown." Expresses confidence that there will be no such "meltdown." Condescension drips visibly from his words.
Graham insists that, given the opportunity, he would not have chosen Sotomayor. He would have chosen Miguel Estrada! Ha: take that! And, he reminds us, though Estrada was a Honduran immigrant, highly qualified, and a Honduran immigrant, the Democrats would not have voted for him. He was also a Honduran immigrant. Sadly, the Democrats did not give Judge Estrada a chance to have his moment in the sun. Thus, Democrats hate Honduran immigrants.
Sen. Graham insists that, if he made a "wise Latino [sic] comment," his career would be over. (Perhaps because he is not Latino?) He "needs her to understand that," and points out that her "experience do'nt make her better than anyone else." Camera pans to Judge Sotomayor, tightly suppressing a sneer. Sen Graham mentions that he worked his butt off for Sen. McCain's election but that "we lost." In other news, the earth continues to turn on its axis. Is Sen. Graham working through some issues? Make "I" statements, Lindsay, like we discussed in therapy. Tell us how it makes you feel. As if on cue, Sen. Graham wonders whether Sotomayor has "earned the right to be here," and says, if "I give you this robe to put on ... " Own it, Lindsay! Own the confirmation process!
11:34: Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md)'s grandfather came to this country over 100 years ago. He thinks it was somehow related to the First Amendment. Or something. In any event, Sen. Cardin is grateful for the benefits, bestowed by the First Amendment, upon him and his Jewish family. Still, he remembers the dark days when Jews were not allowed to swim in the local pool. And (wait for it) ... segue to Brown v. Board of Ed is complete! Nice work, Sen. Cardin!
His point, dear readers: the Constitution is a living document. Republicans, off camera, flinch. The ideal justice, Sen. Cardin continues, should have a "mainstream" philosophy, an interest in protecting individual and civil rights, and a respect for established law. Also, the ideal justice should be nice to kittens, and not a total asshole.
Senator Cardin takes a quick spin through Judge Sotomayor's compelling personal tale. Camera pans to her mother, who looks as though she is getting ... sleepy ... eyes getting ... heavy ... Cardin looks forward to hearing about Judge Sotomayor's view on individual rights.
11:43: Senator Leahy promises that a problematic sign, sitting in front of Judge Sotomayor on the table, will be removed during the upcoming break. This does not, he assures her, mean that she will not have a place to sit. Tension causes everyone to laugh heartily.
Whereupon the hearing is adjourned for a short break.
12:00: Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) extends Sonia and her family a warm welcome. Sounds distinctly airline pilot-ish. Clerquette wonders whether Sen. Cornyn plays airline pilot when he is alone.
Cornyn provides earnest explanation of strict construction. In Cornyn's opinion, the Court has "micromanaged" the death penalty, regulated sexual relations, and even rewritten the rules of golf. That last one hurts, people. It really, really hurts.
In addition, Cornyn continues, other rights have been neglected, such the First and Second Amendment rights afforded by the Commerce Clause. (Hmm.) Please, he asks Sotomayor plaintively: don't invent new rights, and kick old, established rights to the curb. It makes those rights sad.
Before casting his vote, Cornyn says, he needs to know more about Sotomayor's judicial philosophy. Though she has something of a record, her work as a lower court judge is analogous to the work of a quarterback, who carries out orders. What will she do if promoted to the coaching staff? He is particularly concerned about her view of the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. He is also concerned about Judge Sotomayor's confessed tendency toward changing the law on a whim (Clerquette paraphrases here) and borrowing from weirdo foreign law.
12:10: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): Sen. Whitehouse rejects Justice Roberts's "umpire" analogy. Rather, explains Whitehouse, the job of a justice is to define the strike zone. Clerquette wonders if sports other than baseball and football - the discrete, insular minority comprised of badminton, curling, and that event where you ski between stations and shoot stuff - will be given equal protection.
Sen. Whitehouse posits that Justice Roberts is a shitty umpire because (as reported by Jeffrey Toobin), he generally finds in favor of the government/corporation/jailer and against the little guy, whether the little guy is a prisoner, employee, or endangered bird. Whitehouse is looking for a justice who can use her broad discretion to call the balls and strikes a bit more equitably. He, for one, believes that Judge Sotomayor's life experience will inform her judicial perspective. For starters, it will help her to make more empathetic decisions about a number of hypothetical downtrodden people, like the woman who keeps getting an automated system when she calls the bank because her home is in foreclosure, or those who live in neighborhoods where the police only come in raid jackets. It is not clear why these people are plaintiffs. If getting passed through an endless cycle of automated messages is actionable, please email me at [email protected]. I will need immediate assistance drawing up a complaint.
12:20: Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) tells Judge Sotomayor that he is troubled by her belief that "law is uncertain," that judges make policy, and that "race and ethnicity" make someone "a better judge." He chides her for rejecting the notion of pure impartiality and neutrality. The discussion veers dangerously close to metaphysical, better-debated-when-high distinctions.
Sen. Coburn says that, in his opinion, empathy should not be a component of one's judicial approach. Empathy, schmempathy! Empathy is nothing more than bias in sheep's clothing! Judging isn't about relating to people: it's about cold, hard laws and their neutral application. Harden up, folks.
12:29: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) welcomes Sotomayor warmly. Confirmation hearings, he says, can be painful ... but no more painful than breaking one's ankle or having to meet with 89 senators. She smiles gratefully.
12:32: Off camera, an outburst stirs the crowd. The camera shows the Capitol Police removing a heckler. No shoes are thrown. Heckler's message unclear.
12:33: Senator Leahy scolds the crowd, bellowing, "You are all guests of the Senate! You will show respect!" Clerquette wonders whether the furniture is covered with plastic. Sen. Leahy would KILL you if he knew you spilled your soda on one of the nice upholstered chairs.
12:35: Senator Durbin takes Judge Sotomayor on a stroll through her own, illustrious past. Sadly, he appears to have been upstaged by the heckler. His message: Judge Sotomayor is really, really qualified.