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Tuesday, June 02, 2009



Leahy: "Unbelievable" Sotomayor Attacks Demand Earlier Hearing

WASHINGTON — AP The Senate's top Democrat praised federal judge Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday as an extraordinarily well-qualified Supreme Court nominee whose background as an "underdog" appeals to Americans.
"We have the whole package here," said Sen. Harry Reid, seated beside Sotomayor before the two met in his Capitol office. He called her life story "compelling."
"America identifies with the underdog, and you've been an underdog many times in your life, but always the top dog," Reid, D-Nev., said of Sotomayor, the New York-born daughter of Puerto Rican parents who would be the first Hispanic and the third woman on the high court.
Citing her Princeton and Yale education and long experience as a lawyer and judge, Reid said: "We could not have anyone better qualified."
The visit was the start of a daylong schedule of meet-and-greets with Republicans and Democrats designed to let senators get to know President Barack Obama's nominee before they debate confirming her.
Sotomayor was also meeting with the top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and leaders of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and senior GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Leahy, who plans to meet Wednesday with Sessions on a schedule for the hearings, said he's eager to give Sotomayor the chance to respond to "unbelievable attacks" by Republican critics like radio host Rush Limbaugh and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who have branded her a racist because of remarks she made in 2001 that her experiences as a "wise Latina" would allow her to make better decisions than a white male.
"Ultimately and completely, a judge has to follow the law no matter what their upbringing has been," the Vermont Democrat quoted President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee in a private meeting the two had on Capitol Hill.
Leahy had asked Sotomayor, 54, what she meant when she said in 2001 that her decisions as a "wise Latina" would be better than those of a white male. Prominent Republicans have cited the 2001 remark to call her a racist.
Leahy said the judge told him: "Of course one's life experience shapes who you are, but ... as a judge, you follow the law." LinkHere


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