Opening statements have begun in the confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Today is bound to be bland: 19 opening statements from committee members followed by the highlight, Sotomayor’s opening remarks. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be the crucial days with senators taking turns questioning President Obama’s nominee. Here’s a webstory from me on what to expect the opposition to focus on.
Sotomayor was greeted by about 16 pro-life protesters this morning, including Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue, and Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” from Roe v. Wade who has since found Jesus and become a forceful voice for the pro-life movement. “We’re here to remind senators, especially Republican senators who ran on pro-life platforms, the importance of opposing this nomination,” she said, holding a bloody baby doll and standing before a banner that read, “Senators, Stop the Slaughter, Filibuster Sotomayor.” Unfortunately for them, abortion is not looking to be much of an issue in these hearings since Sotomayor is not likely to change the balance of the court. About 45 minutes in to the hearing one of those protesters, Bob Jones, 48, a civil servant from Centreville, Virginia started yelling, “Senator what about the unborn? Abortion is murder!” Jones was promptly shown out by Capitol Police. Jones and his 13-year-old son, Thomas, were dressed in black suits invoking the Blues Brothers. “We’re on a mission from God,” Jones said outside the Capitol.
Sotomayor entered room 216 in the Senate Hart Office building flanked by Senators Patrick Leahy and Jeff Sessions, the chairman and ranking Republican of the Judiciary Committee, respectively. In a blue jacket, black skirt and shirt she was five minutes early and spent that time posing for photos with senators. She then introduced her immediately family – brother, mother, stepfather, sister-in-law and various nieces, nephews and godchildren – sitting behind her to her right. “If I introduced everybody that’s family-like, I’d be here all morning,” were her first laughing words to the committee.
Thus far (in the first hour), the hot button topic continues to be empathy. “Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it is not law,” Sessions said in his opening remarks. “In truth, it is more akin to politics. And politics has no place in the courtroom.”