Little was accomplished this first day of the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearing to become U.S. Supreme Court justice. The day was filled with each and every Senate judicial committee person delivering a prepared speech explaining how each would proceed with an open mind and civil discourse. Democrats did their best to make Sotomayor's life story the lead and Republicans did their best to acknowledge her life story yet remind all that it is the rule of law that is important.
Sunlight Foundation has some good information concerning the transparency of the process. Judicial Committee chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) made of point to assert this is the most transparent hearing ever of a judicial nominee. Unfortunately, when someone does that type of bragging it usually turns out that the opposite is the truth, but time will tell.
Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed. The Democrats have control of Congress and in the Senate they have a big enough majority that they are filibuster proof. As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated to her unless she has some kind of totally unexpected meltdown, she will be confirmed. He stopped short of announcing he would vote for her, though. He did talk briefly about the past history of confirmations and that they were done in a far more civil manner. It used to be that the nominee was voted into the position by members of both parties as long as he or she was shown to be qualified and of good character. Republicans still try to uphold that decorum.
It used to be, back in the day or up until 20 years ago, that a nominee would be voted favorably by both parties as a nod to the truth that a President is entitled to his/her nominees. That all stopped with the Bork hearing. And, the country can hold Senator Teddy (the swimmer) Kennedy responsible for the current day discourse. Kennedy introduced personal political ideology into the confirmation process and this must never be forgotten. It is a big part of the Kennedy legacy.
Let's remember it was Senator Barack Obama who voted against the nominations of Justice Roberts and Alito. He even was on record of supporting a filibuster against Alito. In the case of Obama, karma reigns. Roberts swore Obama in as President. And, now when Democrats mention anything about Republicans being less than door mats, Obama is a prime example of how their side treated Republican nominees.
Senator Orrin Hatch voiced a good summary of recent history, including then-Senator Barack Obama's reasoning for voting against the appeals court nomination of Janice Rogers Brown, a black woman with a compelling life story who was a Justice on the Supreme Ct of California. Obama used his liberal political ideology to thwart the nomination of a highly qualified black woman who happened to be Republican.
The Obama administration project that Sotomayor is qualified above reproach. However, her judicial temperament reputation has been sullied by colleagues and she has some troubling speeches on the record. She has much to be proud of in the way of personal accomplishments. Her story is a purely American one. However, she is not the first nor the last to have such a life story. Interesting that the Democrats, while praising Sandra Day O'Connor and her early life out West, had no such praise for the life story of Justice Thomas. Remember how Kennedy, Leahy and the rest treated that good man?
Today Sandra Day O'Connor is held in high regard from the left. During her career, however, she was just another Republican to be mocked. Towards the end of her career, she mellowed a bit and voted as a swing vote on the Supreme Court. Suddenly, the Democrats thought she was dandy.
As Sotomayor's years of experience throughout her judicial career is pointed to as a reason she should be confirmed, wasn't it President Obama that we were told, as candidate Obama, that experience wasn't what it was cracked up to be in a candidate? Weren't we just supposed to hope for change with him? That guy running against him with all the experience, well, he was just old and out of touch.
As Senator Graham said, "No Republican would have chosen you. We would have chosen Miguel Estrada." The life story of Estrada is even more compelling than that of Sotomayor, yet Estrada made the mistake of being a Republican. The Democrats would not even allow him a hearing for his nomination. He withdrew after almost the two year mark of waiting in limbo. The Democrats wanted to assure their side nominate the first Hispanic for that all important future Hispanic vote. How cynical. How tragic for our country.