August 10, 2009

Remembering Sen. Jeff Sessions

Jeff SessionsImage via Wikipedia

Just because Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court does not mean we should forget about the embarrassing racism of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). For that matter, we should also remember Christian extremist Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and his Human Physical-Mental Enhancement Prohibition Act! But no, this one is about Sen. Sessions.

There was the delicious irony that Sessions, himself rejected as unqualified for a federal judgeship, had the leading Republican role on the Judiciary Committee. There was the blatant hypocrisy involved in fixating on her "wise Latina" comment when both Thomas and Alito said nearly identical things. There was the sinking feeling any astute observer probably recognized that the Republican attacks on Sotomayor are little more than attacks on Obama by proxy. And then, of course, there was Sessions' not so subtle racism.

Regardless of what one thinks of Sotomayor (and I still want to know where she stands on church-state separation), I would hope that her record would have been the focus of Sessions' inquisition instead of...well...unapologetic racism.

According to Sam Stein's article in The Huffington Post,
Ian Millhiser, a Legal Research Analyst with the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund, told the Huffington Post that he was "flabbergasted that conservatives picked someone with a long history of race-based attacks as their point person on the Sotomayor hearing."
I think Stein is right on the money with his view that Sessions himself became the image by which the hearings will be remembered: a white southerner with a history of making racist comments trying to land political points by quoting Sotomayor out of context and then basically ignoring her answers.

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