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It doesn't much matter whether Alabama GOP Senator Jeff Sessions speaks for himself or Rush Limbaugh when he goes for the jugular during his hectoring of Sonia Sotomayor during her Senate confirmation hearing. The shadow of Limbaugh and the ultra-conservative hit attackers will hang heavy over the Senate Judiciary hearing room. Their hit points against Sotomayor can be recited in our sleep. She's too activist, too far out liberal, too pro victim's rights, affirmative action, civil liberties, and for the more rabid, a closet identity politics baiter.
None of this is true. Sotomayor has played it tight to the vest in her decisions, rulings and opinions on the appellate court. So tight, that she has drawn criticism from a prisoner who says she stiffed him on his appeal, and consumer and abortion rights groups who are cautious, if not outright leery of her.
Given the high stakes, the intense media and public scrutiny she's gotten, and the hard pounding from the right, the great fear is that Sotomayor could massage or even retreat from her moderate views on law and politics during the hearings. It's not an unfounded fear.
Sessions and company are not concerned with derailing her confirmation. Barring some monumental gaffe or disclosure, the confirmation is a done deal. The goal is to bully, cow, and badger Sotomayor on the hit points to insure that she toes the line not solely before the panel, but on the bench. The GOP hit plan is to send a firm message to the Obama administration that conservative politics and judicial and legal philosophy remains a potent force in court decisions on issues of race, gender, the environment, consumer, and civil liberties and criminal justice issues that future courts and future justices must decide.