July 15th, 2009
03:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Sotomayor stumped

 Sen. Al Franken stumped Sonia Sotomayor on a question about 'Perry Mason.'
Sen. Al Franken stumped Sonia Sotomayor on a question about 'Perry Mason.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House may have quizzed Judge Sonia Sotomayor on endless laws and past court cases, but Sen. Al Franken thinks they might have missed something.

"What was the one case in Perry Mason that Burger won?" Franken asked Sotomayor at the end of his questioning session on Wednesday afternoon.

Franken and Sotomayor discovered earlier that they were both avid fans of the television show, Perry Mason, which featured a defense attorney who specialized in extremely difficult cases. Sotomayor said she couldn't remember the name of this particular episode, in which Mason loses to prosecutor Hamilton Burger, but said she was "struck" that it was the only one in which Mason's client was actually guilty.

"Didn't the White House prepare you for that?" Franken said, to laughs.

But Sotomayor had a good excuse.

"You are right, but I was spending a lot of time on reviewing cases," Sotomayor said. "I do have that stark memory, because, like you, I watched it all of the time, every week as well. I just couldn't interest my brother, the nurse, and my brother, the doctor, to do it with me."

Turns out, Franken didn't know the answer either. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee Chairman, asked the Minnesota lawmaker to tell everyone the name of the episode.

"I don't know," Franken said. "That's why I was asking. If I knew, I wouldn't have asked her."

Since Franken didn't know the answer either, Leahy said Sotomayor was off the hook.

"Because of that, judge, we will not hold your inability to answer the question against you," Leahy said.

Mason lost to Burger just a handful of times on the show, which originally ran from 1957-66.


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. amazed

    such tough questions from the dems again. how does she stand up against them?

    July 15, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Randolph Carter

    I remember that episode. It was the one where Perry tried to defend Bush and Cheney against war crimes charges. Snark snark!! Have a nice day!

    July 15, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It was a funny moment and she answered the question humerously. Next thing you knew Sen. Leahy tried to add his two cents to the joke(failed miserably).

    July 15, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. HonestMistake

    I hope the people of Minnesota are proud.

    July 15, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Enlightened Voter

    Those republicans grilling her helped destroy this country along with bush and cheyney and yet they want to crucify her for a statement she made which was the truth.

    July 15, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. seebofubar

    GREAT QUESTION FRANKEN....I guess that's a little insight into this clown. Good job Minnessota...you wanted him, you got him.

    July 15, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    And there you have it. The reason why Franken should not be in the Senate. Minnesotans, you are idiots for electing this bozo.

    July 15, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. LIP

    What a great treat...finally a little brevity can be added with Franken the Senate comedian. A clown was all that was lacking and now we have everything in the Senate.

    July 15, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. D

    The Case of the Deadly Verdict is a loss for Perry Mason.

    July 15, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Stuffit

    Mason lost to Burger just a handful of times on the show, which originally ran from 1957-66.

    So, is Franken correct that Mason only lost ONCE, or is CNN correct that he lost a "handful". Or, is ONE considered a handful?

    July 15, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Samuel

    Oh I remember it was when Sandy Berger was caught taking documents out of the national archives and Burger could'nt get him off the way Monica got Bill off!

    July 15, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. windrider

    amazed July 15th, 2009 4:31 pm ET

    such tough questions from the dems again. how does she stand up against them?
    _______________
    I suppose it's easier than standing up against the Republicans, all of whom ask her the same question about the 'wise latina' remark as if no one else had raised it and as if she was going to give them a totally different answer. No wonder Republicans are becoming extinct; they are imploding on their own stupidity day in and day out.

    July 15, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. Jon in CA

    Isn't that just cute...???

    The profane clown plays verbal patty-cake with the racist latina nominee.

    Later tonight the Democrats will have a shut-in where they can all share their most favored quotes from the book given to Obama from Hugo Chavez, "Open Veins of Latin America" and boast about ramming through Sotomayer.

    July 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. RepubliKLANs Are Plain Stupid

    wonder if bush can even recall anything. ms. cheney?...oh, yeah...trying to figure out how to covert the CIA as his own personal property and hide state secrets from the enemies within!!!

    July 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. robert

    poor old america she does'nt deserve this our four fathers would roll over in there graves to see some one like this, I Think she is a good story but no judge! AMERICA YOU VOTED FOR THIS PRESIDENT ! Now you got him.

    July 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. johnnie

    NO , that coverage of the hearings, is stumped at (CNN) I think Wolf Blitzer has the most class on CNN ,since (BENARD SHAW), and back to the Perry Mason (drama) Franken was just having some fun. Roland Martin come back., they need some down to earth injection ,to that so called morning panel. Back to Wolf Blitzer , he will last at (cnn) because he is (BALANCED) i like the way he reports (BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE) he is (kool) to watch , i going to call (SOLID GREY) meaning the hair and beard...He is consistant being fair, now the rest of those (false pretenders ) and i dont have to name the (NAMES) the veiwers (KNOW WHO THEY ARE) need to go. The coverage would have more appeal with Roland Martin on that morning so-called bias (SHOW). I predict, if (CNN) brings back Roland Martin , (Jeffery) can go write something else. The hearing of this historic moment , needs moderators of realness. (SONIA SOTOMAYOR) deserves a fair and balance respect. Come back Roland Martin,Come BACK........

    July 15, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Ren from Baltimore

    What's wrong with a little good-naturedness? Do you want everyone to take after that turncoat from Pennsylvania, Arlen "Grouch" Specter?

    Franken also asked the insightful question concerning whether the presence of particular words in the U.S. Constitution meant all that much. This was in response to the Republicans asking Sotomayor, "is the word 'abortion' in the Constitution?" Franken asked if the word "privacy" was there...in a clean and well-thought out point making mince-meat of the small-brained Republican attacks so far.

    Go Sen. Franken! So many are behind your honest and open and human approach to life.

    July 15, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Seriously

    This thread just goes to show you republicans have no sense of humor.

    July 15, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. debbie

    Anyone who's ever watched C-Span knows that it's not all strict formality all the time. These are human beings for crying out loud – they like to banter or joke like everyone else. We may not like it but even during something as serious as these hearings there are probably little episodes like this.

    That said, I cringed a bit because I know the wingnuts are never going to forget that Franken is, in addition to a Harvard graduate and writer, a comedian, and this is just grist for the mill. But, then, the wingnuts who are gnashing their teeth represent the same 33% or less of the Republican party that insists Sarah Palin is qualified to be President.

    July 15, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Thin is in?

    Enlightened Voter July 15th, 2009 4:34 pm ET

    Those republicans grilling her helped destroy this country along with bush and cheyney and yet they want to crucify her for a statement she made which was the truth.
    ------------------–

    Enlightened, really?

    You realize the "statement" was made at least 6-8 times over a period of years, was PUBLISHED verbatim (as is for you Obama voters), was read from a script that she WROTE and READ from.

    Part two, we had RECORD months of consecutive growth under Bush (FACT) and our economy did not start heading south until............ Democrats took over the Congress (again FACT).

    Now Bush the dolt is not completely without fault, but to avoid FACTS like you people like to do to make the Democrats appear to be without fault here is laughable.

    Four and the door Barry.

    July 15, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Randolph Carter

    Stuffit wrote:
    So, is Franken correct that Mason only lost ONCE, or is CNN correct that he lost a "handful". Or, is ONE considered a handful?

    If you only need one hand, I ain't interested. Have a nice day!

    July 15, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Eileen from Maine

    I'm glad the Repubs get a forum like this to express some of their illogical hatred. Otherwise I am afraid they would take it out on their kids. Actually, I suspect that is precisely what happened to a lot of the Republicans.

    July 15, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. makesUwonder

    Oh, my my my, what a sweet little story. Oh goody, what a sweet bedtime story. Gee, golly, gosh, thanks CNN.

    July 15, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. JG

    Franken will do no worse than some of the folks already in politics. Ensign, Sanford, Kennedy......shall we keep going?.

    July 15, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    robert – Yes we voted for this President and the millions who did thank God every day we did! By the way, what planet were you on the last 8 years?

    July 15, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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