Sotomayor Gets a Free Ride in the Senate

When America goes to war, bumper stickers with the mantra “freedom isn’t free” are ubiquitous. It seems that national history and personal experience join together to convince a majority that there is a fight to win and a cost to pay if liberty is to continue unabated. And while it’s common knowledge that today’s Democrat leaders do not support the fight as Republicans do, there is a breakdown in the American psyche when eyes turn from the battlefield of guns and bombs to that of ideas and ideologues.

Here, many Republicans who muster the wherewithal to support our troops abroad fail constituents by not understanding that there is another war being waged within our borders. It is a war in which leftist ideas and ideologues threaten to sweep this nation away from those who lack the courage to defend it. Republican failures in this war have become glaringly obvious in the months since the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

President Obama nominated Sotomayor for the highest court in the land on May 26, 2009. Two days later it appeared the Republicans were actually going to fight her confirmation when Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) expressed concern over a speech she’d given at UC Berkeley’s law school in 2001. In the speech, she said, “A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.” I remember how exciting it was to think that the Left had made such a blunder in nominating someone who was on record placing her ethnicity above the rule of law and who believed her perspective would result in better conclusions than white folks reach.

But my enthusiasm was not long-lived. On May 29, the very day after Sessions pointed out Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” statement, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele called on Republicans to tread softly on the Sotomayor nomination by  “[recognizing] the ‘historic aspect’ of her nomination.” Just over a week later, on June 9, 2009, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on Meet the Press and put his foot in our mouth again by lauding the nominee as “a great American success story.” Thereafter, the glimmer of hope Sessions brought by making us think there might actually be a substantial debate over Sotomayor’s words was washed away. Steele and McCain made it clear that that template had been set and that template called for kid gloves and carefully crafted questions that would focus more on not offending Hispanics than searching out the truth over something as inconsequential as a Supreme Court nominee’s judicial philosophy.