Liveblogging the Sotomayor Hearings

9:57 – Man, I love C-SPAN. 🙂

10:00 – Government hearing starts on time, LOL. Leahy allows Sotomayor to introduce friends and family, Sotomayor graciously jokes that if she introduced them all, they’d be spending the entire morning on that. Who wants to start a pool on how long it will be before the first wingnut makes a “you know those Latinas and their big Catholic families” comment?

10:05 – By the way, C-SPAN’s online feed for this is EXCELLENT, allows you to switch between cameras, even! Here it is.

10:07 – Leahy as Judiciary Committee chair is continuing the introduction; goes into the history of controversial nominees (Thomas, O’Connor, but also the first Jew and first Catholic nominees), issues stern warning/hope that we are no longer in an era when Senators will be “swayed by outside partisan groups” into asking questions like “what is the Jewish mind” or some of the other questions which have been asked in the past.

10:13 – Jeff Sessions sounds actually cordial. Now he’s getting into the “only five justices can bend the Constitution” stuff. Says court is not a place for justices to make law. Oh, NOW he’s getting into the condescending stuff: reads – in full – the oath of office of SCOTUS justices to Sotomayor (which she surely must know by heart already). Warns that “down the other path,” a judge is free to push his or her own social agenda. Sotomayor’s smile looks a little forced. Sessions goes on and on about every decision that conservatives disagree with. Another betting pool – betcha Sessions doesn’t mention Bush v. Gore, LOL.

10:17 – Sessions says we’ve “reached a fork in the road,” at which, presumably, we must choose between the first path, where white men are the standard upon which “normality” is based, and everything else is activist, and the “other path,” which – presumably – means bad things like “empathy” and recognizing that in a diverse country like America, each person might have his or her own perspective which isn’t by definition any more “normal” or “better” than others.

10:19 – Oh, Cripes. Sessions – still in his opening remarks – is already dragging out some of the quotes that have been dragged out in the press (mentions “wise Latina” comment).

10:20 – It’s actually good to have Sessions out there as the face of the GOP in these hearings. The Latino vote is the fastest-growing sector of the electorate today – by far – and it’s unbelievably bad PR in that regard to have a drawling, formerly-rejected-by-the-same-committee guy like Sessions droning on and on about what a bad thing it is for Sotomayor to have any identity as a Latina whatsoever. “Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another” – actual Sessions quote. Priceless.

10:23 – Sessions bringing up Sotomayor opinions on everything from abortion to gun ownership to private property…but always touching on the “empathy” issue. “Do I want a judge who will let his social or political views affect the outcome?” asks Sessions. Like being upwardly mobile, white and conservative doesn’t ever affect the views or decisions of those people, either. Sheesh.

10:33 – Hatch speaking now. Talks about his approach to confirming Justices.

10:34 – Hatch using Obama’s previous objections to Janice Rogers Brown’s nominee. Says Obama’s objections at that time “are relevant today.” Goes out of his way to mention that Brown is African American. Ugh.

10:36 – Hatch leaning heavily on the Republicans’ favorite (their ONLY favorite) part of MLK’s work, the “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” quote. Says that he hopes we’ve arrived at a point where a nominee’s race or background isn’t substituted for the strength of their record.” Complaining that Miguel Estrada wasn’t confirmed, and that Obama voted to filibuster Brown (forgetting to mention that Brown was confirmed).

10:39 – Hatch brings up fireman Ricci, who will be testifying later in the week. What a fireman has to do with the process nominating a SCOTUS nominee, I have no idea. Yes, he was the central figure in one of the cases she had a hand in ruling on, but how does that make him relevant for these rather technical hearings? I hope the Democrats pepper him with legal questions he has no background in, just to show Sessions, et. al. how silly it was to call on him. They can bring up the procedural intricacies of the Ricci case without having to do the Kabuki theater of actually dragging the man himself into the hearing room.

10:41 – Feinstein up now. Seems very sympathetic, and I know it’s just my own personal history with San Francisco, but seeing DiFi speak for any length of time always makes me want to hurl. 😉

10:44 – Oooooh! Drama! Someone shouted from the back; couldn’t hear what he said. Leahy pounding gavel for order.

10:46 – Gonna stop for a while; at least until the endless introductory remarks stop — unless there’s another outburst! LOL. 😉

10:48 – OK, I lied. Feinstein actually hitting pretty hard on the notion of “activist judges.” Has obviously had her staff digging around in the Roberts’ court record where the conservative majority in the last couple of years has overturned precedent and violated stare decisis by following their own consciences or social/political beliefs. Eight times. Says these examples are clearly just as “activist” as anything the Republicans complain about with regard to Sotomayor.

10:56 – Grassley now lecturing Sotomayor on what makes a good justice. Says that Sotomayor’s comment that “no justice can ever be truly impartial” troubles him. Pfffft.

10:57 – Grassley says that justice requires that SCOTUS justices “check their biases and prejudices at the door.” Yes, Chuck. But it can’t require them to be robots. Their entire JOB is to take the written words of the law, and do their best on a case by case basis to interpret what it means. That’s what it means to “judge.” Otherwise, you could just hire a Congressional stenographer to read the law books. Duh.

11:00 – Heh. Feingold referencing recent multiple times that the SCOTUS has reined in the excesses of the Bush administration in the war on terror. Grassley looks livid. 🙂

11:06 – Feingold finishes up by quoting the END of Sotomayor’s now-infamous Berkeley speech where the right has gotten much of its ammo. Quotes this part: “I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.” AWESOME.

11:09 – Following Feingold, John Kyl sounds like an idiot; harping on the same old tired “wise Latina” harangue which Feingold just disposed of with a different quote from Sotomayor’s record. What an idiot – and how unfortunate to have to follow someone like Feingold who pre-refuted Kyl, LOL 😉

11:17 – Schumer finishing up the introductory remarks. His will be shorter, because he will use some of his time later to formally introduce Sotomayor (being one of her Senators). Not much happening now.

11:22 – Schumer actually hits Chief Justice Roberts hard over his own record of applying his own political philosophies since being confirmed to the bench. Says Sotomayor’s record is much more judicially moderate than Roberts’ own has been.

11:23 – Yuck. Lindsey Graham is such a weasel. Says this hearing is “all about liberal and conservative politics,” and that “as long as you don’t have a complete meltdown, you’re gonna get confirmed.”

11:26 – Lindsey Graham says “wise Latino,” (not Latina). Almost certainly not merely a slip of the tongue; he just has no idea what the difference is.

11:28 – Graham is at least the third GOP Senator already who has referenced extensively the criteria then-Senator Obama used when he voted in confirmation hearings. Gives us a preview of their strategy. Graham says if he applied Obama’s standards, he would vote against Sotomayor.

11:43 – Ben Cardin needs to put a sock in it, LOL

11:44 – Oh, wait…he did. Leahy calls for 10 minute break. Gonna sign off for a while. This might be my last update of the day.