Today Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont called attacks on Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor “unbelievable” adding that the attacks were “among the most vicious attacks that have been received by anybody.”
If one does a quick search of what Leahy had to say just a few short years ago about President Bush’s pick, Samuel Alito, they would find this statement:
This is a nomination that I fear threatens the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans now and for generations to come.
The statement was made during a long and rambling press eelease in which Leahy decried the President’s reliance on warrant-less wiretapping which he believed was unconstitutional. The Bush administration’s very same arguments, shocker, have been continued by the Obama administration. So, did Leahy ask Sotomayor her thoughts on the subject today? Did her answer make him secure that she wasn’t a raging threat to the nation?
Leahy was also vocal on now Chief Justice John Roberts. Leahy today called out Republican’s attacks on Sotomayor because of a statement she made in which she said a “wise Latina” would of course make better decisions than a lowely white male. A statement that if made by a white person invoking the opposite would immediately disqualify and be held up by the left as racist. It is with no dearth of irony that many on the right, including myself, have invoked the racist moniker for Sotomayor in advance of the cause of equality.
Similarly a previous statement by Roberts had profoundly urked the Senator during his confirmation hearings. Roberts called abortion a “tragedy.” Imagine that, someone believing regardless of the law that killing babies isn’t a wonderful thing that should be celebrated. So how did Leahy react?
Leahy called Roberts “radical” and an “eager, aggressive advocate” of “far right” positions. All because Roberts isn’t personally keen on killing babies. Now that is not at all a “vicious attack” in any way. Why? Because it was made about a Republican and in support of abortion.
After disparaging the nominee Leahy released another rambling press release attacking the Bush administration, only in this one he eventually announced he would vote “yes” for Roberts. I am sure he wasn’t at all playing politics with the nomination.
Those are the modern moments of Leahy. When speaking about “vicious” moments in Supreme Court nomination fights how can we not mention the 1987 Robert Bork hearings?
He voted against William Rehnquist’s elevation to chief justice. And he was a major tormentor of Robert Bork during those awful hearings of 1987. In fact, he was responsible for one of their moments of highest drama. He scolded Bork for doing insufficient charity work while a professor at Yale, and recited the fees he earned as an outside consultant during the years 1979 to 1981. Responded Bork, “Those are the only years I ever made any money in consulting.” He continued, emotional, “There was a reason to get money, and I don’t want to get into it here.” Leahy acknowledged that the judge had his reasons. Then Sen. Gordon Humphrey, a Republican, broke in, saying, “Judge Bork, this is a very personal question, and if you prefer not to answer it, by all means do not-but were those years [ones that] coincided with heavy medical bills in your family?” Bork spoke one syllable: “Yeah.” The bills to which Humphrey had referred were for Bork’s first wife, Claire, who died in December 1980. This was not only a moment of high drama, but one that turned the stomachs of many of those watching.
Nice one Leahy, first attack a nominee for not giving enough to charity and then push him to admit that the money he did have went to medical bills for his now dead wife. Should we push Sotomayor on her charitable giving and where her money goes?
During the confirmation hearings of now Justice Clarence Thomas Leahy used the exact same line of argument he did for Samuel Alito saying “I cannot promise the people of Vermont that I’m sure this nominee will protect their rights.”
So is Leahy losing it or is he truly shocked by his own politics? Neither, what Leahy wants is not a venom free nomination hearing, he wants to get rid of the nomination hearing.
Leahy is pushing for a swift series of hearings on Sotomayor’s confirmation, and has said the harshly worded criticism of her necessitates a quick timetable.
“Swift” of course means a hearing without any real details or opposition. The left is doing all they can to turn Sotomayor into a victim of some terrible injustice, an “underdog” whose nomination has been sullied and should therefore not have to play by the same rules. It is the same old tired left argument.
Leahy’s hypocrisy goes deeper though as the Senator has a long and well documented history of playing nomination games. When his party is in power, he cries fowl over any attempts to slow nominations for careful review. When his party is not in power, he himself uses every available means including the courting of public opinion to obstruct in every way possible those nominees he doesn’t personally like.
Put simply, he plays politics and then whines loudly when others try to enter his sandbox and do the same.