The confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor begin this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 am ET.
I’ll be doing live coverage as much as possible throughout the hearing process.
The first day is almost always Senator opening statements and an introductory statement from home state Senators. The published schedule from Judiciary for today bears that out as well. Then the SCOTUS candidate gets to make an opening statement that sets the tone for the candidate’s prep work as well as how questions will be answered — or not — and what demeanor we can expect through the bulk of the hearings.
What we’ll get from Sotomayor today is anyone’s guess.
Not to count the Justice before she’s confirmed, but looking at the full witness list for the hearings, I’d say she’s got the votes for the nomination sown up. The minority witness list is a pitiful mishmash of not much firepower, frankly, which says a lot about what they’ve been able to muster as oppo on her.
Which says to me what we’ll get from Sotomayor is congenial, steady, and as non-controversial milquetoast on the answers as possible to not make any unnecessary waves in the glide to the voting line.
But the thing about live hearings is? You never know.
Especially on the rapid fire Q&A that we’re likely to get from a few of the Senators on the committee. And that could get interesting or at least give glimpses of some interesting stuff.
I’ve seen the Sotomayor hearing as a sort of test run for any number of things, the most important of which is getting a feel for where the GOP strategy on judicial nominations is going to go. At the moment, I’d describe it as an uninterested mishmash of disarray, which has to be driving the Federalist Society types bonzer yo yo.
CAP put together a "conservative myths versus reality" sheet on the most commonly flung GOP arguments that is worth a peek prior to the hearings. Because, right on cue, the NYTimes provides a summary of the GOP Sunday talking head arguments without much refutation of their scanty factual basis. Go figure.
But when the hearing starts, we’ll get a much better picture whether that’s correct. Or whether it was a pre-hearings ruse. And, more importantly in my mind, how it may apply to future federal bench nominations across the board. Or not.
Some resources for today:
— The Senate Democrats have put up a number of informational pieces about Sotomayor.
— The Sunlight Foundation put together a fact sheet on Sotomayor’s rulings, transparency and other issues relating to their work.
— SCOTUSblog caught the Brennan Center analysis of Sotomayor as well:
A study by New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice has analyzed 1,194 constitutional cases decided during Judge Sotomayor’s tenure on the Second Circuit and found her to be solidly in the mainstream of the bench. On the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has voted with the majority in 98.2% of constitutional cases and 94% of her constitutional decisions have been unanimous. The Brennan Center’s publication can be downloaded here and the New York Times has a good summary piece here.
It makes for a very interesting read in your spare time.
— Daphne has some hints on Sotomayor’s views on executive power gleaned from case reading.
— And Dahlia has some background on the GOP’s star witness, Frank Ricci.
More as I get it throughout the day.