News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beyond satire: The Sotomayor Senate hearings

The second day of Senate hearings for Judge Sotomayor had a couple of moments so loaded with irony, they could have been satirical skits. Unfortunately, what they represented was hardly funny.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, berated Judge Sotomayor for her now infamous "wise Latina" comment, saying "they would have had my head" had he made the same comments. These words came from a senator whose state still flies the Confederate Battle Flag on the Capitol lawn and where the Stars and Bars waved proudly over the Capitol building itself until 2000.

However, it was Republican Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama who took hypocrisy to new heights by asking Judge Sotomayor: “…isn't it true this statement suggests that you accept that there may be sympathies, prejudices and opinions that legitimately can influence a judge's decision? And how can that further faith in the impartiality of the system?

I suppose one can argue Senator Sessions is an expert on prejudice. After all, his home state was a bastion of racial segregation; a state where the governor stood belligerently at the doors of the University of Alabama and tried to bar federal troops from enforcing civil rights laws that allowed black students to attend the previously all-white college for the first time.

If this was a situation comedy, the senators’ statements would have had laugh tracks. Here are two white males from states where Jim Crow laws made racial prejudice a legal fact, aggressively questioning a minority woman about her racial bias based on a statement she made eight years before. C’mon. This is right out of Seinfeld, right? I mean, they even had the prerequisite southern drawls, for God’s sake.

But no, it was not really funny. Bigotry never is.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

For your evaluation, here are the civil rights voting records of Senators Sessions and Graham. I think they speak for themselves.

Senator Jeff Sessions

  • Banning the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. (Jan 2006)
  • Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
  • Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
  • Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women. (Mar 1998)
  • Voted YES on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business. (Oct 1997)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 7% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)

http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/jeff_sessions.htm

Senator Lindsey Graham

  • Support the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. (Aug 2008)
  • Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
  • Voted YES on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions. (May 1998)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 0% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 11% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Amend Constitution to define traditional marriage. (Jun 2008)

http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Lindsey_Graham.htm