The Washington Times - June 2, 2009, 12:16PM



Here’s to hoping that today’s standard-issue meetings with lawmakers determining the fate of Sonio Sotomayor will present some kind of indication of what’s to come in the confirmation hearings of the Supreme Court nominee. One can hope right?

Getting off to a running start ahead of her scheduled visits with no less than 10 senators on both sides of the aisle, the news analysis, reporting and commentary has been fast and furious. In a balanced yet unique approach, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) produced a television profile detailing Sotomayor’s Catholic upbringing and what her selection could mean for the High Court.

The Politico zeroed in on the battle brewing among members of the GOP, how the “right demands tougher fight” and how at least some conservatives are already taking Senate Republicans to task for their “tempered” approach to the historic nominee. I’m sorry, but I thought that’s what senators are supposed to do – resist the temptation to prejudge ahead of probing the nominee (that’s usually reserved for the pundits and commentators). Specifically targeting Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, conservatives cited in the Politico piece are encouraging a filibuster “if that’s what it takes” and boldly call for McConnell’s resignation, citing his “limp-wristed” approach reacting to Sotomayor. The push back from McConnell’s office is that this is “one” person’s view amplified in piece that largely supports the more moderate tact the Republican leader is taking. 

Not to be outdone by his base, RNC Chairman Michael Steele (also an attorney and a minority first for his political party) is weighing in too. Having penned a published commentary acknowledging the appeal of Sotomayor’s “remarkable story” and historic nomination, yet calls for the same kind of scrutiny and judging of “merits based on philosophy” being promised by Republican lawmakers.

Despite pressure from both sides of the aisle to clue us in to their intentions, Republican senators won’t say either way whether there will be a Republican filibuster of Sotomayor (you know, what Democrats and President - then senator - Obama did but failed with George W. Bush’s first Italian-American pick Samuel Alito, after they annihilated Harriet Miers.) That would be too “premature,” McConnell’s office tells me. No argument there. In fact, I would caution conservatives against having it both ways. While Democratic lawmakers notoriously excoriated Bush nominees, to the rightful dismay and outrage of the right, Republican lawmakers have a duty not to do the same. And taking them to task for doing their job presents a double-standard. There will be plenty of time for those actually casting a vote to pour over her record and compile the necessary questions to challenge Sotomayor’s controversial, left of center views. Conservative senators who fail to do so during the confirmation hearings, should be raked over the coals.

One almost certain guarantee however, is that  Sotomayor won’t get the (predictable) nod by President Obama’s “arbitrary deadline” of August. Not with some 3,600 cases for the judicial committee to review. John Roberts’ speedy confirmation cited by the other side may have only taken 24 days but senators only had 327 cases to review. McConnell’s office (also speaking for his Senate judiciary cohorts) says confirming Sotomayor before the Court’s fall opening session will be close to impossible. And while the senator expects the judge’s visit today to be cordial, McConnell will also “try to get some answers on the obvious questions.” That would include Sotomayor’s incendiary racial remarks and her now notorious jurists as “policy makers” quip at Duke University. While an apology isn’t expected or needed says the senator, she’ll no doubt, have some ‘splainin’ to do.

-Tara Wall is a news anchor and political analyst at The Washington Times and editor of