September 29, 2018

Anyone remember back when Lindsey Graham made a big deal out of Sonia Sotomayor supposedly having a temper? As Oliver Willis reminded us on Twitter:

If Sonia Sotomayor had put on the type of disgusting, aggressive, nasty, combative display we saw from Brett Kavanaugh this week, Republicans would have been ready to haul her off in a straight jacket. For that matter, if she'd acted like Lindsey Graham when he threw his temper tantrum during the hearing, they would have said she was unfit to sit on the Supreme Court.

Here's a little flashback for anyone who would like to remind Graham what a huge flaming hypocrite he is when it comes to what he believes passes for fitness to serve on the highest court in our land.

Transcript from July 14th, 2009:

SEN. GRAHAM: Okay. Now let's talk about you. I like you, by the way, for whatever that matters. Since I may vote for you, that ought to matter to you.

One thing that stood out about your record is that when you look at the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, lawyers anonymously rate judges in terms of temperament, and here's what they said about you: "She's a terror on the bench." "She's temperamental, excitable." "She seems angry." "She's overly aggressive, not very judicial." "She does not have a very good temperament." "She abuses lawyers." "She really lacks judicial temperament." "She believes in an out-of- control — she behaves in an out-of-control manner." "She makes inappropriate outbursts." "She is nasty to lawyers." "She'll attack lawyers for making an argument she does not like." "She can be a bit of a bully."

When you look at the evaluation of the judges on the 2nd Circuit, you stand out like a sore thumb in terms of your temperament. What is your answer to these criticisms?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I do ask tough questions at oral arguments.

SEN. GRAHAM: Are you the only one that asks tough questions in oral arguments?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: No, no, not at all. I can only explain what I'm doing, which is, when I ask lawyers tough questions, it's to give them an opportunity to explain their positions, on both sides, and to persuade me that they're right.

I do know that in the 2nd Circuit, because we only give litigants 10 minutes of oral arguments each, that the processes in the 2nd Circuit are different than in most other circuits across the country, and that some lawyers do find that our court, which is not just me, but our court generally, is described as a "hot bench." It's a term of art lawyers use. It means that they're peppered with questions. Lots of lawyers who are unfamiliar with the process in the 2nd Circuit find that tough bench difficult and challenging.

SEN. GRAHAM: If I may interject, Judge, they find you difficult and challenging, more than your colleagues. And the only reason I mention this is that it stands out when you — you know, there are many positive things about you. And these hearings are designed to talk about the good and the bad. And I never liked appearing before a judge that I thought was a bully. It's hard enough being a lawyer, having your client there to begin with, without the judge just beating you up for no good reason. Do you think you have a temperament problem?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. I can only talk about what I know about my relationship with the judges of my court and with the lawyers who appear regularly from our circuit. And I believe that my reputation is such that I ask the hard questions, but I do it evenly for both sides.

SEN. GRAHAM: In fairness to you, there are plenty of statements in the record in support of you as a person, that do not go down this line. But I would just suggest to you, for what it's worth, Judge, as you go forward here, that these statements about you are striking. They're not about your colleagues. You know, the 10-minute rule applies to everybody. And that, you know, obviously, you've accomplished a lot in your life, but maybe these hearings are a time for self-reflection. This is pretty tough stuff that you don't see from — about other judges on the 2nd Circuit.

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