Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 13, 2009


Republicans came out firing at this morning's confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor, as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, accused Sotomayor of being prejudiced.

Citing a controversial racial bias case in which a fire department discarded the results of a qualifying test when black firefighters scored too low, Sessions said Sotomayor was biased in favor of the minority employees. [...]

But Sessions's attack wasn't confined to the Ricci v. DeStefano case. The Alabama Republican indicted Sotomayor's entire philosophy as based on non-judicial factors.

"Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it is not law. In truth it is more akin to politics. And politics has no place in the courtroom," Sessions said.

He can go through the motions if he likes, but to hear Jeff Sessions accuse anyone of "prejudice" is pretty ridiculous.

All it does is offer a chance to revisit Sessions' own lengthy record.

As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, Sessions' most notable effort was prosecuting three civil rights workers, including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., on trumped up charges of voter fraud.

Also during his illustrious career in Alabama, Sessions called the NAACP "un-American" because it, among other groups, "forced civil rights down the throats of people." A former career Justice Department official who worked with Sessions recalled an instance when he referred to a white attorney as a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans. Sessions later acknowledged having made many of the controversial remarks attributed to him, but claimed to have been joking.

What's more, Thomas Figures, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama and an African American, later explained that during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he "used to think they [the Klan] were OK" until he found out some of them were "pot smokers." Sessions once again acknowledged making the remark, but once again claimed to have been kidding. Figures also remembered having heard Sessions call him "boy," and once warn him to "be careful what you say to white folks."

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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The Republican posturing for the confimationo f SS is disgusting. The Supreme court delayed a decision on corporation campaign donations until September so the court could vote witihout SS and Souter in attendance. That is not political strategy? Roberts and Alito are not puppets for republican political strategy? Sessions is the typical Republican who fights against civil rights in every way he can. More hypocrisy from the republicans! These hearings are a way to keep the issues of climate and health care out of the media for awhile ; to yet again stall the passage of these bills for another day.

Posted by: mljohnston on July 13, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

this is epic fail. they dont have the votes to stop her. Yet, they call her a racist? better still, someone with a history of racist comments calls her a racist?

I would love to see how the spanish language networks cover the hearings. THAT is the only thing that is really in play, and by "that" i mean the GOP's future with sometimes socially conservative latino voters.

wow. just wow.


Posted by: eric on July 13, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Ah. The Republicans are leading with the glass chin.

Posted by: JPS on July 13, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Sotomayor's extensive judicial record puts the lie to Session's line of attack (although the Fox "News" Nation won't see it that way.) In the firefighter case she was following the established law.

You would have thought that overt racists like Sessions would have been pushed out of politics long ago. I guess he really is from Alabama.

I love this line of attack. The Republicans are going to lose any chance of ever winning minority members. Stay stupid NRC, stay stupid.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 13, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

If politics has no place in the courtroom, why do we entrust the most craven politicians in the land to confirm judges?

Posted by: Grumpy on July 13, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Sessions wanted, ever so badly, to play the role of the land owner in "Heat of the Night", where he could slap Sydney Pottier, until he found out Sydney would slap him back.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 13, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Eric raises a good question, and I hope someone not cursed with my incurable monolingualism will let us know how Univision and the others are treating this.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on July 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

One person whose liveblogging is particularly worth following -- particularly for LGBT readers -- is Chris Geidner at Law Dork.

(He has a new address, btw. "Same dork, new site."

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on July 13, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Jeff Sessions. Former assistant U.S.Attorney Thomas Figures. Senator John Ensign. NAACP head Benjamin Jealous. There sure seem to be a lot of people in the news these days who have names that are also common words.

Posted by: navamske on July 13, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Now listening to Sen. Cornyn lecturing Sotomayor... and it dawns on me that the Rs are showing their line of attack (not that it isn't already obvious, but perhaps giving more details now)... and giving her the perfect chance to process and ready her responses to them in the coming days.

Chumps. She's going to run circles around 'em.

Posted by: Me on July 13, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

So in Sessions' veiw the only people capable of separating themselves from their racial, gender or financial backgrounds are white upper income males (preferrably educated at ivy league schools). No else is capable of being 'objective'.

Posted by: thorin-1 on July 13, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I've got a shiny new quarter for anyone on 'mainstream' teevee (cable too) that mentions Session's past racist history during the wall to wall coverage of the confirmation hearings.

On Faux News this AM the best they could trot out was Alberto Gonzales, for heaven's sake! (Harriet Myers was busy prepping for Sean Hannity's show. . .)

Posted by: DAY on July 13, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to take this opportunity to once again apologize for Alabama

Posted by: martin on July 13, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

anywhere other than the clown car us senate would see thru jeff sessions' cracker-racism in a hot new york minute.

it is a pity and a travesty that he garners the simulacrum of respect by being a us clown-senator.

Posted by: neill on July 13, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sessions today went after Sotomayor's service for the "Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF)"

Typical Sessions voter: "Hmm.. sounds scary - who are these 'Puerto Ricans', and where can we find this species? Surely not Alabama."

Posted by: Ohioan on July 13, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well perhaps Sessions long immersion in racism makes him some sort of expert on these matters?

Posted by: Cioran Sellars on July 13, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Sessions' comments on NPR earlier and I wanted to reach through the radio and throttle him. Seriously? So I guess when Alito was talking about how he empathetically took his family's history as immigrants into consideration when serving as a judge that was discriminatory? Sorry, I forgot in the GOP rulebook that IOKIYAWM. (WM = White Man)

If the GOP is going to spend the week talking absurdist shit like this I can't bring myself to listen to the hearings. I'll get all I need via Rachel Maddow, TDS and Colbert, thank you very much.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on July 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

re: "If politics has no place in the courtroom, why do we entrust the most craven politicians in the land to confirm judges?"
Best comment I've read in a month. Nice work.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 13, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

How rich ! The ranking member of the judiciary committee is a mud-slinging, racist, fuckhead.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 13, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

t -- That's The Honorable Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to you, son. Right up there with the venerated and celebrated Jubilation T. Cornpone and Foghorn Leghorn.

Posted by: VaLiberal on July 13, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff Sessions has long been one of the most repulsive of the so-called "solons" the GOP has leaving a slimetrail around Washington. He just looks like one of those Southern D.A.s who'd throw a confession in front of you after Roscoe P Coltrane slaps the crap out of you and say "Sign it, boy.....if ya know what's good for you..."

Posted by: PRiverside on July 13, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, that Jeff Sessions, such a wit. Every bit the equal of Ben Franklin or Jonathan Swift in his trenchant-yet-amusing social criticism. Cracks me up every time.

Posted by: jvwalt on July 13, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

These comments coming from a southern racist, pot meet kettle.
The biggest problem with bigots is they never think they are.

Posted by: jc on July 13, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I am stunned....stunned that these morons were smart enough to leave their pointy white hats at home.

Posted by: FitterDon on July 13, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to mention this again, but, I think it's necessary.


***this is not a website to recruit or solicit racial groups - it is a website where people from all racial backgrounds discuss the often heated topic of race. It is a must read!!!!

Posted by: annjell on July 13, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

What. The. F__k.

Why are the Republicans letting Sessions do this?! Isn't this exactly what they wanted to avoid with him, given his track record?! Are they now hellbent on making sure the Hispanic vote is lost to the GOP for the next generation.

Again, What. The. F__k.

Posted by: gf120581 on July 13, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

..I'm sitting here in shock.

my fingers are on the keys but I can't put into words the disgut I feel about blatant use ofanti-African American speak. How dare you? How dare you? You know you're going to hell, don't you?

Posted by: catpee on July 16, 2009 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

If you are willing to buy a car, you would have to receive the business loans. Moreover, my brother always utilizes a student loan, which seems to be the most fast.

Posted by: DillonMelva23 on April 6, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't aware of the many ripples and depth to this story until I surfed here through Msn! Terrific job. Best wishes, Yetta.

Posted by: Yetta on November 19, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK



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