There are times when our elected officials act like little more than sullen, spoiled children (witness what’s happening in the New York State Legislature, but that’s another post). Now that Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy has announced a July 13th start date for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, Republicans are crying foul. “Not enough time”, they bleat. Senator Jeff Sessions argues “It’s far more important we do this right then we do it quick”.
In other words, there isn’t enough time for the GOP to play “Gotcha” with this nominee. They know they don’t have the votes to stop her confirmation, so now they grasp at straws. When confronted by the fact that Leahy’s timeline is remarkably similar to that of Chief Justice John Roberts when he was confirmed, they counter that she’s ruled on ten times more decisions than he , hence the need for more time.
And of course, the flaw in the Republican argument. If experience on the bench is an important qualifier for the nation’s highest court (and we’ve heard the GOP trot this out many times in the past), Judge Sotomayor would make the grade just by the number of decisions she’s rendered. Still, the Republicans argue that under the July 13th timeline announced by Leahy, they’d have to review 76 cases per day to be prepared for her confirmation hearing.
Well, if Senate familiarity on national security briefings is any indication, Most of them won’t be doing the heavy lifting themselves anyway. That’s why they have paid staffs, and trust me, they don’t skimp on them. No, the GOP wants time because they want to find something, anything that would torpedo Sotomayor’s nomination. To be fair, this isn’t new, nor is it the sole province of Senate Republicans. But they ought to be honest and say that’s what they’re doing.
If they were totally frank, they’d say they need more time not not to study Sonia Sotomayor’s record but to figure out how to make themselves look good to moderate and independent voters during the televised confirmation hearings. Seen from that vantage point, the political stakes are high, high enough to make a big stink about the timing of the process. Make no mistake. If the Republicans still controlled the Senate, those hearings wouldn’t start until after Labor Day, and no power on earth would make them move faster.
All this attention around Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation is a good thing. Americans ought to have something substantial to focus on besides “Jon and Kate, Plus 8” (lol).
The Supreme Court has a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. The Senate should look at her record. Barring any surprises, it shouldn’t be found wanting.
What do you think. Is July 13th too early for Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings to begin?