Jeff Sessions recently got promoted to ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, after Arlen Specter crossed the aisle and became the world’s oldest rookie after 28 years in the Senate. Sessions got brutally handled by the same committee when nominated for a position on the federal bench, which served as a warm-up to the character assassination of Robert Bork the next year. If anyone would have a chip on his shoulder when it comes to confirming a Democratic appointment, it would be Sessions. After meeting with Sonia Sotomayor, though, Sessions tried hard not to tip his hand either way (via Greg Hengler):
Sessions would prefer to wait until the hearing starts to get down to brass tacks, apparently. He had an opportunity today to grill Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, but to hear him tell it, Sotomayor’s more controversial statements didn’t directly enter into the conversation. Instead, they had a pleasant chat about philosophy, with Sessions — a former prosecutor himself, as is Sotomayor — undoubtedly looking for weaknesses for a later cross-examination.
The most interesting development in this clip comes towards the end, when reporters ask Sessions when the hearings will start. Sessions suggests September, long after Patrick Leahy’s statement today that he wants them almost immediately because a confirmation hearing is the only place Sotomayor can defend herself against the criticisms coming her way. That’s absurd, of course; Sotomayor can and will be interviewed endlessly between now and the hearings, with a much higher profile than most if not all of her critics. Does Sessions want to put off the Sotomayor hearings so that he can shine a brighter light on Obama’s plans on health care and cap-and-trade? I sense some horsetrading in the background after this.