Clowntime is Over.

More boring than brilliant, but boring is safer.

More boring than brilliant, but boring is safer.

The Senate Judicary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court are for all purposes over and with the preliminaries over, we can move to vote of the committee and then the full Senate.   With Democrats holding a comfortable margin over the Republicans, it’s not a matter of “if” Sotomayor will be confirmed, but  how many Republican votes will she get.

I’m feeling optimistic.  I’ll give her ten votes from the right side of the aisle.

Journalists who cover the legal scene denounced the hearings as “boring” and complained that Sotomayor was so prepped and scripted by the White House that she revealed almost nothing about herself.   Dahlia Lithwick at SLATE sighed, “What we haven’t learned is anything more about her views on guns, gay marriage, abortion, military tribunals, or eminent domain. We may actually know less about her views on these matters today than we did going into these hearings.”

I have an immense amount of admiration for Lithwick as a journalist and a far better interpreter of these type of proceedings than I ever could be.  For legal reporters, a Supreme Court confirmation hearing is like a sportswriter covering The Super Bowl.  But both events are highly scripted and not terribly newsworthy.  Both the politicians and the coaches stick to their scripts and rehearsed lines.  The only thing spontaneous about the Sotomayor hearings were  the abortion protesters yelling out from the cheap seats.

What we learned was a lot we already knew.   Judge Sotomayor’s 17-years of experience is well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence and there’s nothing there to suggest she permits her ethnicity to influence her for or against a plantiff based upon their race.   She’s smart, possesses a good memory and knows how to dance backwards and away from every rhetorical trap the frustrated Republican minority laid for her.

I watched the opening remarks made by the panel on the first day and after than I was done.   This was a study in math and forgone conclusions.   The math is 60 votes for the Democrats and 40 for the Republicans.  The forgone conclusion was no matter how much trash Boss Limbaugh talked, the Republicans weren’t going to go into the 2010 elections pissing off the Hispanic vote by vainly trying to derail Sotomayor’s nomination.

Sitting to Chairman Patrick Leahy’s right was one Jefferson Beauregard Sessions whom once was sitting where Sotomayor sat for four days. When Sessions was being considered for a seat on the federal judiciary, he was asked about disparaging remarks he had made about the NAACP and ACLU and why he had called a Black attorney “boy” and warned him “be careful how you speak to White folks.”

Lindsay Graham was outsmarted by the "wise Latina.'

Lindsay Graham was outsmarted by the "wise Latina.'

Look at where Sessions is now.  A  failed  nominee as a federal judge, he now sits on the same committee that rejected his own nomination and passes judgment on others for their ill-chosen remarks.

Apparently, you can eventually be forgiven for your intemperate and poorly-chosen words and particularly so if you’re part of the “good ol’ boy” network of the U.S. Senate.

Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury.

Senator Lindsay Graham is probably the most likely Republican to vote for Sotomayor but he was also the most annoyingly condescending, patronizing and sexist when he asked her if she had a “temperament” problem and “anger management” issues.  This from a guy who was John “Cranky” McCain’s butt boy last year?

If Graham thinks Judge Sotomayor needs “anger management” what’s his good buddy McCain need? A straitjacket and a syringe full of Zoloft?

Not too patronizing, condescending and sexist Senator Graham.

Oh wait. Yes, you absolutely were.

I don’t think  Graham needs to be bitch-slapped.  I do however have a metal baseball bat I’d like to introduce to his kneecaps.

Anyone wondering why Congress can’t find their way out of a open closet needed to watch the questions being thrown at Sotomayor by both the Dems and Repubs.

They were multiple variations of  the same five or six questions she couldn’t answer because they may come before her on the Court or questions she wouldn’t answer because it would just put her ass on the hot seat.

The Dems lobbed lazy softballs and the Repubs tried to throw heat but most of it  was regurgitated versions of the “wise Latina” remark.   It seemed it was only a matter of time before Senators Cornyn  or Kyl pointed a finger at Sotomayor and barked, “Why do you hate White men?”    Do a bunch of 50-something year old White guys part of a party that seems clueless how to talk or relate to minority groups  really want to talk about race and bias?

Sotomayor’s job wasn’t to provide sounbites for Faux News or must-see television.   She was happy to drone on in a monotone and to remain poised,  charming and utterly unperturbed by the seven sorry senators tasked with the unhappy job of trying to make the 55-year-old jurist come off as some raving liberal, White man-hating Latina.

All she had to do was whether the questions posed by the Seven Dwarfs for 210 minutes and not say anything stupid.  Fortunately, the Republicans went out of their way to fill the void.

How many of these senators slip out of their suits and ties and back into their clown costumes when the cameras are off?

"That all you got?"

"That all you got?"

If you can’t beat her, beat her up.

Relax, Sonia.  Barack's got your back.

Relax, Sonia. Barack's got your back.

First things first.  Unless the Republicans  find a literal dead body in her closet,  Sonia Sotomayor will be the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court when it opens for business this fall.

It’s really a matter of mathematics.  There are 12 Democrats and only seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.   Whenever the mess in Minnesota is sorted out, Al Franken will join the 59-member strong Democratic majority as opposed to 40 Republican senators (though the health of Ted Kennedy and the faltering 91-year-old Robert Byrd bear watching).   Barring a major scandal, meltdown or faux pas, Sotomayor should be confirmed relatively easily.

The liklihood (there are almost no certainties in politics) of Sotomayor’s inevitability is not going to stop Senate Republicans for at least trying to present a show of resistance to her.    In politics, when you know going in the odds are against you, at least look as if you’re putting up a fight.   Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee have to make it look good despite knowing the outcome in advance.

But the Unelected Opposition of conservative pundits and talking heads isn’t interested in lightly tapping Sotomayor with kid gloves.  The have sharpened the daggers and  are looking to draw blood.   They know while they can’t beat  her,  theywill enjoy beating her up.

The opposition has seized upon one sentence uttered by the judge in her 17 years on the bench:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white man who hasn’t lived that life.” ~ Sonia Sotomayor/2001

The gates of hell flung open with the thunder of chest-thumping indignation by Angry White Men (and a few token women and minorities) whom suddenly developed a newfound sensitivity toward racism.  At least when White men are the ones supposedly being discriminated against.

Newt slams Sonia as a racist.

Newt slams Sonia as a "racist."

Imagine a judical nominee  said, ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman’  new racism is no better than old racism. “

“White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw.  Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Twitter.

“So here you have a racist.  You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse-racist.  And the libs, of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t  have the power to implement their racism.  Well, those days are gone, because reverse-racists certainly do have the power to implement their power.  Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse-racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

“She is a hack like he is a hack, in the sense that the court is a place to be used to make policy—not to adjudicate cases, not to adjudicate constitutional law, but to make policy. ”

Which boob is bigger? (Hint: Its not the one youre thinking)

Which boob is bigger? (Hint: It's not the one you're thinking)

“I mean do I want  her to fail?  Yeah.  Do I want her to fail to get on the court?  Yes—she’d be a disaster on the court.”

~ Comedian and drug addict, Rush “the Boss”  Limbaugh

Unfortunately for her and fortunately for us there are plenty of things that we’ve even talked about her already.   I’m telling you, she appears to be a racist.  She said things that are racist in any other context…I would continually bring up this quote of hers, I’d like her to explain that.  It is incredible to me.  There is no one else I can think of who could possibly have said the kind of things she said, if they are reported accurately about the benefits of being a brown woman as opposed to a white man and interpreting the law and nobody can look at that and say that was not a racist, sexist statement that would disqualify anybody else…She is a Hispanic woman and we can’t say anything like this.

~ former Congressman and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Tom Tancredo

“I think she is a racist.  I think she decided things based on race.  I think she says that a Hispanic woman, with the experience of being a Hispanic woman can make decisions that a white man can’t make.    I can’t imagine saying that.  That’s like saying Hispanics can’t make money decisions like them Jews.”

— Glenn Beck,  Fox News television host/comedian

If the U.S. Seante rejects race-based justice, Sonia Sotomayor wil never sit on the Supreme Court.

Because that is what Sonia is all about.  As the New York Times reported Saturday, the salient cause of her career has been advancing people of color, over whites, based on race and national origin.

Like Lani Guinier, the Clinton appointee rejected for reverse-racism, Sonia Sotomayor is a quota queen.  She believes in, preaches and practices race-based justice.  How can any Republican senator vote to elevate to the Supreme Court, who, all  her life,  has believe in, preached and practiced race discrimination against white males, without endorsing the Obama-Sotomayor view that diversity trumps equal justice, and race-based justice should  have its own seat on the high court?

I love the taste, but I hate cleaning up afterward, says Bukkake Buchanan.

"I love the taste, but I hate cleaning up afterward," says Bukkake Buchanan.

Down the path Sotomayor would take us lies an America where Hispanic justices rule for Hispanics, black judges rule for blacks and white judges rule for white folks…On principle, Republicans cannot support Sonia Sotomayor.

And polticially, if they do, why should the white working man and woman ever vote Republican again, as it is they who are the designated victims of the race-based justice of Sonia Sotomayor?

Why should white folks vote for anyone who says, “We are against race discrimination,  unless it is discrimination against you?”

MSNBC contributor, failed Republican presidential candidate and occasional  Nazi sympathizer Pat Buchanan

“A few more Senate confirmations of judges like Sonia Sotomayor and America will look like the inside of a Mexican prison.”

— Ann Coulter (10-17-97)

Law professors, former clerks, even respected left-leaning news outlets have all expressed concerns that Sotomayor is not the intellectual heavyweight that Obama would have selected.  What she has is legal experience—as a trial judge, appellate judge, and commerical litigator–she seems to lack in scholarly talent…Sotomayor may have been given preferential treatment because she’s a a Latina woman.  Let’s hope that if she becomes a Justice she doesn’t do the same.”

— Sabrina L. Schaeffer/

“For those who believe in the rule of law, Barack Obama used the words ‘rule of law’ in introducing his nominee.  For those who take his words as gospel even when his own actions are directly the opposite of his words, that may be enough to let him put this dangerous woman on the Supreme Court…The real question is whether the Republican Senators have the guts to alert the public to the dangers of putting this kind of judge on the highest court in the land, so that they will at least have some chance of stopping the next one that comes along.”

“What does it say about her qualifications to be on the Supreme Court when her supporters’ biggest talking points are that she had to struggle to rise in the world? ”

Compares Sotomayor to Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Hitler.

Compares Sotomayor to Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Hitler.

“Bonnie and Clyde had to struggle.  Al Capone had to struggle.  The only President of the United States who was forced to resign for his misdeeds—Richard Nixon—had to struggle.  For that matter, Adolf Hitler had to struggle.   There is no evidence that struggle automatically makes you a better person.”

— Thomas Sowell

If you didn’t think the direction of the country could get any worse under the leadership of Barack Obama, you were wrong.

This week, he nominated for the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor – a racist who mocks the notion that judges are merely supposed to interpret the law, not make it, under our constitutional system

Sotomayor is comfortable making such decisions for one reason – she has no respect for the rule of law and the constitutional limits on the judiciary branch of government. In short, she believes it is perfectly appropriate for judges to make policy, legislate from the bench, create new law where none has previously existed.

Need more persuading this woman is an extremist and unfit to be a spectator in the Supreme Court, let alone a justice?

Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza. What is La Raza?

In reality, La Raza is a racist hate group – a band of “Hispanic supremacists,” if you will, though it is seldom characterized that way…The only real differences between La Raza and the neo-Nazis and the KKK are its wealth, power and level of sophistication.

What does La Raza literally mean? The race. Not surprising that Sotomayor would belong to such a group. Because that’s what she’s all about – race.

Joseph Farah,

So there you have it.   A vertitable smorgasboard of far-right knee-jerk paranoia and propaganda with little thought and less substance involved.  Gingrich, Limbaugh, Tancredo and Beck all warn that Sotomayor is a mean-spirited, hardcore  racist.   Buchanan claimes Sotomayor is a “quota queen” and “reverse racist” who is waging war from the bench on “white folks.”

As far back as 1997 , Coulter was warning judges like Sotomayor would turn the nation into Mexican prisons. columnist Sabrina L. Schaeffer suggests the judge isn’t too bright who benefited from being a “Latina woman.”  Schaeffer is joined by her colleague Uncle Thomas Sowell  who calls Sotomayor a “dangerous woman”  and isn’t impressed by her struggle as a young Latina in the Bronx because after all Adolf Hitler and Al Capone had to struggle too.    Proving once again there’s no situation that the shadow of Hitler can’t be pimped to make someone look like a real bastard.

The caliber of many of arguments against Judge Sotomayor are short on substance and  loud on noise.    It appears since they don’t have facts to back them up, race-baiting and distortions will have to suffice.   None of these clowns have a vote, but they hope by rattling their cans they might influence a few Republicans who do.

They can’t win this fight, but they will make a lot of noise before they lose.

Its all smiles now, but Sessions wont make it easy for Sotomayor.

It's all smiles now, but Sessions won't make it easy for Sotomayor.

Will Obama add a Hispanic to The Supremes?

Hes outta there! (Judge Souter seated far right)

He's outta there! (Judge Souter seated far right)

If I were advising the President as to what qualities he should look for in his first Supreme Court choice,  I’d tell him, “Pick a woman, pick a minority and pick the most liberal minority woman you can find.”

But of course President Obama isn’t asking me.   Everything about his previous selections for his Cabinet leads me to believe he will select a moderate centrist who can be approved by the majority of the Senate and without a major fight from Republicans (though no matter who he picks they’re going to bitch about). 

There isn’t a more powerful and less understood branch of the federal government than the U.S. Supreme Court.  I don’t remember when I became so fascinated by these nine jurists , but ever since I read Bob Woodward’s The Brethren I’ve paid attention close attention to the inner workings of the Court, the personalities involved, and the enormous impact their rulings have on the nation.

The  men and women a president appoints to the federal courts is one of their most enduring legacies.   George Bush has given us John Roberts and Samuel Alito for many moons to come and their conservative credentials are rock solid.  Prior to Bush, Clinton elevated Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court.   They have offered a reliably, if colorless, moderate alternative to the Court’s four-man conservative bloc of Roberts, Alito, Fat Tony Scalia and Uncle Clarence Thomas.

One thing I admire about Republicans is they don’t make any apologies for nominating red-meat right-wingers to the judiciary.   They call them “strict constructionalists” who don’t “legislate from the bench” when of course that’s precisely what they do once they’re on the job.   There’s nothing remotely moderate about Roberts and Alito and they have been every bit the darlings of the Right Bush intended for them to be.

Seven of the nine Justices were appointed by Republican presidents and with the exception of the retiring David Souter and John Paul Stevens, they have not deviated much from conservative orthodoxy.    I don’t begrudge Bush for sending purists to the Court.  If anything, I would hope Obama  follows suit.

Why are these five people laughing while two are not?

Laugh today. Hire a replacement tomorrow.

But I really doubt President Obama will send a fire-breathing, unabashed liberal to the Judiciary Committee.   Even with a Democratic majority of 59 in the Senate, it’s not a solid majority as nobody can predict when someone like Evan Bayh or Ben Nelson will pull some stunt and vote with the Republicans or what kind of mischief nominal Democrats-in-name-only like Joe Lieberman and Arlen Specter will get into.  

The sad truth for the President is it’s not just Republican resistance to his nominee he has to contend with.  There are a lot of timid Dems in Washington that will run like scalded dogs from anyone considered “too liberal” for their taste.

The favorite to replace Souter is Sonia Sotomayor for reasons Esquire magazine explained in their October 2008 issue:  If Obama becomes president, his first nominee to the Supreme Court will likely be Sonia Sotomayor. As a Hispanic woman with 16 years of court experience, Sotomayor would slay two of the court’s lack-of-diversity birds with one swift stone. “These are criteria that matter these days. Even Laura Bush was disappointed that her husband didn’t name a woman to replace Sandra Day O’Connor,” says Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard. And because Sotomayor has a reputation for staying behind the scenes and sits on a federal bench known for its centrism, it’s likely that she would be able to garner a two-thirds majority in the Senate, even if the Democrats only control an estimated 55 or so seats. Plus there’s an insurance measure if the nomination gets too politicized publicly: Sotomayor was appointed to the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush. Says Tushnet, “If you’re a Democratic strategist, you can gin up ads that say, ‘She was good enough for George H. W. Bush. Why isn’t she good enough for Mitch McConnell?’ “

Oh, I doubt McConnell and the GOP won’t find plenty of reasons why Judge Sotomayor isn’t good enough even if they have to make up some. 

Barring some scandal (or  unpaid taxes) it’s a pretty safe bet President Obama will get his nominee confirmed by the Senate.  The only questions are how badly will they be bruised by the process and will they make a difference in slowing the rightward drift of the Court or just a  new replacement part in the Ginsburg/Breyer/Stevens moderate minority.

On the way to help Judge Ginsburg break up the boys club?

On the way to help Judge Ginsburg break up the boy's club?