In case any further proof was needed that he’s going to hold his nose and vote yes, here you go. He accepts her argument that her life’s work belies the apparent intent of the “wise Latina” comment. But does it?
The reason Sotomayor’s work at PRLDEF is important, Republicans say, is that it shows a period in her career in which she put into action the ideas she expressed in her “wise Latina” and other speeches. At PRLDEF, Sotomayor was a liberal activist, not the careful, conservative, law-bound judge she has portrayed herself to be at her hearing. Her PRLDEF years — she left the group when she became a federal judge in 1992 — show a different Sonia Sotomayor than the one sitting before the committee.
Why didn’t Republicans explore the PRLDEF connection more thoroughly? No one seems to know. There are seven GOP senators on the committee. Each is experienced, and each has his own areas of interest. They do not coordinate their questioning with one another. So several of them spent a great deal of time discussing the “wise Latina” speech without spending much time on how Sotomayor’s world view translated into action in her career. In some ways, Sotomayor’s time at PRLDEF is the link between her personal views and her legal work. A close exploration of her PRLDEF years could help explain, for example, why she gave such short shrift to the Ricci case, in which she summarily denied the rights of a group of white firefighters who had earned promotions in a testing situation reminiscent of the ones PRLDEF and Sotomayor had challenged in the past.
Republicans had a chance to explore these issues with Sotomayor in the early, high-profile moments of her hearing. They missed it.
Well, it’s nice to know at least that he’s no longer taking a hard line on shutting “bigots” up. Exit question: A federal appellate judge/Supreme Court nominee thinks NLRB stands for “National Labor Relationships Board”?