July 14, 2009

Rachel Maddow reminds of us of why the likes of Jeff Sessions is the last person who should be taken seriously when asking someone else about racial prejudices.

MADDOW: That was Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois speaking at today‘s confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama‘s pick for the Supreme Court. It is widely assumed that Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed. She will be sworn in as the first ever Latino to serve on the Supreme Court, not to mention only the court‘s third woman.

Which means Republicans in the Senate are using the Sotomayor hearings, not so much as an opportunity to block the president‘s nominee, because they know that pretty much they can‘t, but rather to demonstrate the character of themselves in opposition which, it turns out, looks a little something like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of Judge Sotomayor‘s public statements suggest that she may indeed allow or even embrace decision-making based on her biases and prejudices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Already prejudiced against one of the parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allow biases and personal preferences - the wise Latina woman quote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your wise Latina -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your wise comment -

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): Justice Sotomayor has said that she accepts that her opinions, sympathies and prejudices will affect her rulings.


MADDOW: If your irony-sensing ulcer is spitting bile right now, let me confirm that that last guy there was Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, accusing Sonia Sotomayor of having a prejudice problem.

That would be the same Jeff Sessions whose own nomination for a federal judgeship could not make it out of the Republican-run Judiciary Committee in 1986 after testimony that he had called the NAACP un-American and communist-inspired, had joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was OK until he found out members of the Klan smoked pot, and that he agreed with another lawyer who said a Department of Justice attorney, who was white, was a disgrace to his race because he represented African-Americans.

And those are the things that he admitted to saying and tried to defend. The charges he denied included the allegation that he told a black attorney he should, quote, “Be careful about how he talked to white folks,” and that he called a black attorney “boy.”

Now Jeff Sessions is leading the charge against Sonia Sotomayor on the grounds that she has a prejudice problem. And Sen. Sessions is doing it as part of the hearing process that is basically certain to result in Judge Sotomayor‘s confirmation, which means that Sen. Sessions, specifically, and his party generally, are using this opportunity to stand on the giant media platform that is a Supreme Court nomination to proclaim themselves to the nation as opposed to the first ever nomination of a Latino to the Supreme Court, mostly on the basis of questions about race.

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