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Day One: Spotlight on Sotomayor

By Michelle Malkin  •  July 13, 2009 03:53 AM

Able to leap tall life obstacles in a single bound!

It’s opening day of the Senate SCOTUS hearings on the Sonia Sotomayor nomination. We’ll get gavel-to-gavel coverage this morning on all major networks and CSPAN starting at 10am Eastern.

The good news: At least we’ll be spared Joe Biden’s bloviations.

That’s about the only positive thing I can say about a day that will be dripping in the politics of racial identity and judicial nomination-as-high-hurdles-contest rhetoric.

Wonder which Senator will be the first to bring up her “history-making” status as a Wise, History-Making Person Living With Diabetes?

Latinos are putting conservatives “on notice” and will watch Republicans “like hawks.” Estuardo V. Rodriguez, director of something called “Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary,” told ABC News: “We accept tough questions. But what we are going to object to are questions that misrepresent the judge or that distort her record.” (The group includes the pro-racial/ethnic preference Hispanic National Bar Association, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.)

Translation: Be quiet about Ricci, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, and the Wise Latina Woman remarks — or else!

I’m reminded of a good column a few months ago by Rachel Campos-Duffy, who happens to be a wise conservative Latina woman:

For conservative minorities, especially conservative minority women, Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination and the warnings from the left not to “bully” her are a reminder of the double standard with which we live out our social and political lives. The recognition that there are two separate rulebooks for minorities: one for liberals and one for conservatives. In the liberal rulebook, whites must be sensitive and considerate of a minority’s life story and the unique obstacles he or she faced and/or overcame. In the conservative rulebook, well, there really is no rulebook because there are no rules. It’s always open season on conservative minorities.

Speaking of open season, it’s open season on Frank Ricci — the lead plaintiff in the Connecticut firefighters’ discrimination case:

On Friday, citing in an e-mail “Frank Ricci’s troubled and litigious work history,” the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way drew reporters’ attention to Ricci’s past. Other advocates for Sotomayor have discreetly urged journalists to pursue similar story lines.

Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he’s dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.

The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci’s retaliation complaint.

No People for the American Way officials could be reached Friday to speak on the record about the press campaign.

“To go after so sympathetic a plaintiff as Frank Ricci . . . is a new low in the politics of personal destruction,” said Roger Pilon, the director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. “If they were smart, they’d keep a low profile.”

I called attention to the left-wing smear merchants’ campaign in early May against Sen. Jeff Sessions. This is more of the same. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line rightly blasts those targeting Ricci:

Ricci has leveled no personal attack on Sotomayor, and surely will not do so in his testimony. All he did was file a lawsuit that eventually found its way into a courtroom where she happened to be sitting. To be sure, this ended up exposing Sotomayor as too intellectually dishonest to write a real opinion and too ideologically committed to reverse discrimination to reach a decision that a single Supreme Court Justice could agree with. But that’s not Ricci’s fault. I’m certain that when he filed his suit, he hoped that all judges who heard his case would get it right, or at least treat it seriously.

But what of Ricci’s “troubled” history of litigating employment claims. It consists of a suit claiming disability discrimination when one fire department decided not to hire him (Ricci is dyslexic); an administrative complaint claiming that his discharge by that same fire department was in retaliation for accusing the department of safety violations; and the reverse discrimination suit against the New Haven fire department that Sotomayor mishandled.

Isn’t it odd that an outfit calling itself People for the American Way would this history “troubling”? One might have thought that such an organization would applaud challenges to disability discrimination, race discrimination, retaliaton, and safety violations.

Nope. Like I said when Sotomayor’s nomination was greeted with MSM sob-story slobbering, not all “compelling stories” about overcoming “incredible odds” are equal.


The witness list via the Senate Judiciary Committee:

American Bar Association Witnesses

Kim Askew, Chair of Standing Committee
Mary Boies, Primary Reviewer

Majority Witnesses

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, City of New York
Chuck Canterbury, National President, Fraternal Order of Police
David Cone, former Major League Baseball pitcher
JoAnne A. Epps, Dean, Temple University Beasley School of Law, on behalf of the National Association of Women Lawyers
Louis Freeh, former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Michael J. Garcia, former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Patricia Hynes, President, New York City Bar Association
Dustin McDaniel, Attorney General, State of Arkansas
Robert Morgenthau, District Attorney, New York County, New York
Ramona Romero, National President, Hispanic National Bar Association
Congressman Jose E. Serrano, New York 16th District
Theodore M. Shaw, Professor, Columbia Law School
Kate Stith, Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Minority Witnesses

Linda Chavez, President, Center for Equal Opportunity
Sandy Froman, Esq., Former President, National Rifle Association of America
Dr. Stephen Halbrook, Attorney
Tim Jeffries, Founder, P7 Enterprises
Peter Kirsanow, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
David Kopel, Esq., Independence Institute
John McGinnis, Professor, Northwestern University School of Law
Neomi Rao, Professor, George Mason University School of Law
Frank Ricci, Director of Fire Services, ConnectiCOSH (Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health)
David Rivkin, Esq., Partner, Baker Hostetler
Nick Rosenkranz, Professor, Georgetown University School of Law
Ilya Somin, Professor, George Mason University School of Law
Lieutenant Ben Vargas, New Haven Fire Department
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life


Early-morning Sotomayor news round-up…

*WSJ: GOP Looks for at Least 20 ‘No’ Votes .

Opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court suggested they would consider it a victory if more than half of the Senate’s 40 Republicans voted against her in this week’s confirmation hearing, as the GOP grapples with how aggressively to challenge the nominee.

Many Republicans said they viewed 23 “no” votes as a benchmark, because that would be one more than Chief Justice John Roberts received in 2005 and would reflect a significant protest vote.

Others said that if the Senate GOP were to split roughly in half, that would signal support to conservatives who oppose Judge Sotomayor without angering Hispanic voters with a wholesale dismissal of her nomination.

*Gun-rights activists unite against Sotomayor.

*WJLA: Pro-life Activists Protest Sotomayor Confirmation.


Liveblogging summary here.

Posted in: Sonia Sotomayor

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