Commentary Magazine


The Sotomayor Hearings

Do not expect too much action today. The questioning of the nominee will begin tomorrow.

In the opening minutes we saw clearly the battle lines: biography v. philosophy. Sotomayor introduced her lovely family and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy waxed lyrical about the historic nature of the nomination. But then Sen. Jeff Sessions delivered one of the hardest-hitting opening statements for a nominee in recent memory. He went after the president’s “empathy standard” and then after the nominee’s own words. Anticipating her defense, he noted that her supporters would claim she would never admit that judges should display bias. But, Sessions declared, “Judge Sotomayor has outlined such a view in many, many statements over the years.”

There you have it: the Democrats, who when confronted with nominees of a Republican president, could not get enough of “ideology,” will keep it light and breezy, sticking to generalities. If Sessions is any indication, the Republicans will probe what she has said and done, in favor of whom and why she has ruled as she has, and whether she has views of judging and race that comport both with our Constitution and with widely-held ideals concerning the rule of law and equal protection.   The outcome may not be in doubt. But we may all learn some things about the nominee, the president, and those senators along the way.