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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/13/09

The GOP's Canny Hit Plan on Sotomayor

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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.

The GOP attackers also are determined to use Sotomayor as their foil in their fierce and on-going battle to influence public opinion. This is especially crucial since there's little chance to stop her confirmation.

The instant Obama announced Sotomayor as his court pick, the massive effort to tar and brand Sotomayor as a race biased, judicial activist kicked into high gear. News clips, accounts, and commentators endlessly looped her reference to being a "wise <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Latina" on nightly broadcasts and in editorial pages. The aim was to hang the tag of activist judge on her. The Supreme Court's narrow reversal of her appellate court ruling against the New Haven white firefighters in their reverse discrimination affirmative action suit also was aimed at discrediting Sotomayor. Since polls show that a significant percent of whites oppose race based affirmative action programs, her decision supposedly marked her as a flawed, compromised, and biased judge. Hitting hard on Sotomayor as a race hawk and judicial activist paid another small dividend. In private meetings with moderate Democratic and conservative Republican Senators immediately after her nomination, she backpedaled from the wise Latina reference. She called it a poor choice of words. She followed that with another concession by resigning her membership in the Belizean Grove, a tame, moderate, mostly women's forum and discussion group.

She'll also be badgered to recant her 12 year affiliation with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. The Fund waged legal battles against job discrimination, and for bilingual education and minority voting rights. This won ┤t be the last mea culpa she ┤ll be required to make for her alleged racism before she ┤s confirmed.

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other (more...)
 
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