That was then, this is now

Among the morning’s opening remarks by various senators on the
Senate Judiciary Committee at the start of Sotomayor’s confirmation
hearings, Sen. Hatch made some particularly keen ones.

He quoted Barack Obama when, as senator, he sat on one of these
confirmation hearings for a minority woman judge and expressed very
different viewpoints. I thought a transcript of that would be available
quickly afteward, but his remarks are hard to find, except in this snip:

Said Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: “From what she has said, she
appears to believe that her role is not constrained to objectively
decide who wins based on the weight of the law but who, in her opinion,
should win.”

“The factors that will influence her decisions apparently include
her gender and Latina heritage and foreign legal concepts that get her
creative juices going.” he added.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, broadened that line of skepticism to
include Obama. He noted that as a senator, the president opposed Janice
Rogers Brown, an African-American appointee to the appeals court by
President George W. Bush.

“He argued that the test of a qualified judicial nominee is whether
she can set aside her personal views” and decide cases on their merits,
Hatch said.

He also said Obama noted at the time that while a nominee’s gender,
race and life story “are important, they cannot distract from the focus
on the kind of judge she will be.”

Hatch added, “But today, President Obama says that personal empathy is an essential ingredient in judicial decisions.”

In politics, timing is everything. Hatch’s remarks are a timely reminder of politics and the Court.


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