May 31st, 2009
12:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Sunday Roundup: GOP lawmakers say filibuster unlikely

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="On the Sunday shows this morning, GOP lawmakers said a filibuster against Sotomayor isn't likely."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leading Senate Republicans indicated Sunday that a filibuster of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is unlikely, though they also promised not to shy away from what they characterized as a troubling judicial record.

Reflecting the delicate political balancing act of opposing the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee, they also pushed back against those conservative commentators who were quick to paint Sotomayor as a racist.

"I don't think that the need for filibuster will be there unless we have not had a chance to look at the record fully," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, told CNN's John King on "State of The Union."

"I have voted (against filibustering) sometimes even when I voted against the nominee if I felt that I knew enough about the nominee. I think it will be determined in that way."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told King he had "no earthly idea whether (a filibuster) would be appropriate," but noted that he had consistently voted against filibustering judicial nominees during the last Democratic administration.

"I personally felt that filibustering judges was inappropriate. I always voted (to cut off debate) on every incident - in every instance," McConnell said.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, struck a similar tone, arguing that "filibusters should not be used readily and ought to be (only) for extraordinary circumstances."

A filibuster would be "unlikely, but we'll have to see how this hearing plays out," Sessions said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But the GOP leadership did not back away from criticizing Sotomayor in a number of areas.

McConnell took aim at her ruling in the 2008 case Ricci v. DeStefano, where she backed the city of New Haven's decision to throw out the results of a firefighter promotion exam because almost no minorities qualified for promotions.

"Everybody is troubled ... by the Connecticut firefighters case," McConnell said.

"The Department of Justice, under the Obama administration, disagrees with the decision Justice Sotomayor made. Her colleague on that circuit, (Judge) Jose Cabranes, also appointed by President Clinton, vigorously disagreed with the decision. ... So I think it is certainly worth looking at."

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on an appeal of Sotomayor's decision by the end of its current term in June.

McConnell also highlighted Sotomayor's controversial remarks at a 2005 panel discussion at Duke University, where she told students that the federal Court of Appeals is where "policy is made (and) where ... the law is percolating."

"Those of us who are elected are supposed to make policy, but those of us who are appointed are supposed to apply the law," McConnell argued.

Hutchison added she was troubled "to hear someone say something like ... the Court of Appeals is where we make policy in this country."

In addition, the Republicans criticized Sotomayor's 2001 speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where Sotomayor said that she "would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

The comment promises to be a focal point of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings over the summer.

"It does trouble me to say that one type of old person versus another one is going to make a different or better decision," Hutchison said.

Conservatives such as talk radio host Rush Limbaugh have seized on Sotomayor's remark, calling her a "reverse racist."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia wrote on Twitter Wednesday, "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

McConnell, however, argued Sunday that the view of Limbaugh and Gingrich "is certainly not my view. My view is we ought to take a look at this nominee's qualifications. I think (Sotomayor's) life story is absolutely impressive."

McConnell dismissed the controversy of Limbaugh's and Gingrich's remarks, saying that he had "better things to do than be the speech police."

The White House and other Democratic defenders of Sotomayor have argued that her remarks have been taken out of context.

"Look at the totality of it. I have confidence that people will come to a reasonable conclusion," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in his Wednesday briefing.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, backed Gibbs on Sunday, arguing on CNN's "State of the Union" that Sotomayor "could have chosen different words, but what she is basically saying is: Your experience matters."

Klobuchar drew a parallel between Sotomayor's remarks and remarks made by Justice Samuel Alito, a Republican appointee, during his 2006 confimation hearings.

"When I get a case about discrimination," Alito said at the time, "I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."

Alito's remarks are "very similar to some of the things (Sotomayor) said," Klobuchar argued.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Obama warned Republicans not to play politics with Sotomayor's nomination.

"There are ... some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor's record," Obama said.

"No nominee should be seated without rigorous evaluation and hearing; I expect nothing less. But what I hope is that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this process, and Congress, in the past."

Obama called on the Senate to begin Sotomayor's confirmation process "without delay."

Sotomayor, a Princeton and Yale graduate, has more than 16 years of federal opinions with which to gauge her proficiency as an arbiter. She spent six years as a district judge and a decade on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” so they will be able to kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    And the only reason there will not be a filibuster is because the Party of NO does not now nor will it in the future have the votes to filibuster.

    If they did, they indeed would.

    May 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. lol

    This chic is a racist, La Raza is a low life organization thats racist. They believe every mexican should be able to cross the border and enter the US , lol. La Raza , "The Race" is filled with people that have 6-8 kids and these kind of people put the huge latin stickers on their low riding cars. I am embarrassed to have hispanic blood in me. What has happened to the USA?

    May 31, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Dawn in Pa

    The Republicans will not filibuster is because the states they are in, their constituents are mostly Latino and Black, especially the boarder states, which they need for 2010.

    May 31, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. GOP = 21st century dodo

    How generous of them to not do something they can't do in the first place.

    May 31, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Aspen Professor

    The Republican right-wing extremists are spouting their usual nonsense. "They (the Repubs) also promised not to shy away from what they characterized as a troubling judicial record.

    Ya gotta wonder if the "troubling judicial record" is as troubling as the Conservatives judicial record who gave Bush and Cheney a free ride into the White House after a majority of Americans voted for the Democrats in 2001.

    May 31, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. indiana voter

    It just goes to show that the current Republican party has no courage to stand up to Obama and the democrats. No wonder they are losing elections. They are acting like liberals, or at least letting liberals have whatever they want. I for one will vote against any Republican who lets liberals roll over them all the time and show no backbone.

    To the Party of No poster: you were a part of the party of no from 2000 – 2006. Things will eventually swing back again and you will be in the minority again. There is already corruption happening in your party as a result of being in power too long already. Get ready for when people start calling you someone who says no all the time. Loser.

    May 31, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    repubs might get the clue that most people don't care anymore what they think. eight years of lies and threats . this judge will be a good choice . smart and will speak out and use the constitution. as rule

    May 31, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Post always rejected by CNN

    Even tho democrats do not now have that 60 votes to insure that they can go forward on everything. I do think they will be able to override any republican obstruction attempt.

    The republicans are supporting, and funding coleman in his bid to hold up that 60th vote as long as he can. This guy should be banned from politics in Minnesota for ever and right now, since I live in Minnesota there are a heck of a lot of republicans who say he better not ever run for anything else because they would vote for a donkey over him.

    We all in Minnesota know he is just doing what the republicans told him to do, and they are having fund-raisers to help pay for this mess he made. Also watch for impeachment proceedings to be investigated against Phenlenty for not signing that certification as required by Minnesota state law. And this guy wants to run for president. What a joke if he and Coleman are the best the republicans have they are in a world of hurt.

    May 31, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Post always rejected by CNN

    PS wonder if everyone in Indiana is stupid or just don't know what is going on. The democrats won a majority in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES in 2006. The republicans still had the white house and the senate. SO HOW IN THE DEVIL DOES A DUMMY SAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN IN POWER SINCE 2006. Gee and they are allowed to vote.

    May 31, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. voter

    why? Fillibuster her so it can led to the end of the republican party.

    May 31, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "Things will eventually swing back again and you will be in the minority again."

    Why do Republicans assume that voters will swing back to the Republican Party? All that's left of your party is the base: the most ignorant, hateful, and repulsive elements. No rational adult wants to be associated with the mouth-breathing yokels that make up your base. You don't even have an agenda for crying out loud! No plans, no ideas, no nothing. Just whatever Obama does, do the opposite. And you know what the opposite its? The last 8 years of Bush/Cheney. The voting public showed in 2006 and 2008 that they don't want that.

    Don't you understand? We tried it your way, and that was a disaster. Now we're on plan B. If this fails too, then we have nowhere to go.

    May 31, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Worth repeating again

    Apparently the filibuster is still unlikely.

    May 31, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Cobra Montana

    I thought I meet an intelligent democrat once but I was mistaken!!

    May 31, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Dave from Jacksonville

    To indiana voter:
    No, things do not have to swing back. There has always been more Democrats than Republicans in the USA. If the Republicans do not change their "message" they will never be back. The MAJORITY of Americans do not want what they offer.

    May 31, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. MatthewDetroit

    This woman does not believe in the Constitution or the BIll of Rights. She is a terrible choice for the Supreme Court. It has nothing to do with her sex or race although the Democrats would love to have us all believe it. That is the first thing they brought up.

    May 31, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. craig

    Love the republicant's!

    Lumbug and Cheney have now shown their true facist colors to the nation.

    GOP = SLOP

    Stick a fork in these idiots! They are done.....cooked in their own juices!

    They did more to ruin the American way of life than anyone since 1776.

    Yes these guys are on the verge of self destructing. Blow yourselves up and simply go away.

    By the way, Lumbug has fallen off the wagon!

    May 31, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Had It

    I'm very troubled by the Republican party being led by Limbaugh, Rove, Cheney, Coulter and other people that the American people have not voted on.

    There is a stink coming from this whole mess that will never go away.

    May 31, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. Rick

    "the most ignorant, hateful, and repulsive elements" "mouth-breathing yokels" "wonder if everyone in Indiana is stupid" "spouting their usual nonsense" "repubs might get the clue that most people don't care anymore what they think"

    Examples of Intelligent, Liberal discourse.

    May 31, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. David Newport, OR

    Question: What does the Republican Party want to do with an intelligent minority woman who has more experience starting out THAN ANY OTHER JUSTICE SITTING ON THE COURT TODAY?

    Answer: Nothing.

    Makes me want to ask another question: Why?

    Oh wait...I already know the answer.

    May 31, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Simmy


    When did you leave the 'mother ship?' In case you haven't noticed, the majority of winners are lol at you...The minute you opened your mouth (via this blog) you id-ed yourself.....She is not a 'chick' (I can tell you're a Glenn Beck groupie)....She's a more than qualified judge......When it comes to experience, she's hot.....I'm not Hispanic but I know racism when I hear it......Please go back to your Right wing nuts (ready and waiting on the mother ship).......

    May 31, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Neilz

    House Republicans know outright opposition to Sotomayor is political suicide. They'll have some token criticism, but not even they are prepared to fall into another Obama trap. He's mopping up the deck with Republicans with this one. Sotomayor is going to make Republicans look even worse than they do now, if that's possible.

    May 31, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Ted Tartaglia

    Interesting! The GOP would really like to filibuster the Sotomayor nomination but they are afraid of further alienating Hispanic voters. Also, she was first appointed to by Bush the elder and Republicans have voted to confirm her several times. Should they decide to filibuster her now, they only confirm their obstructionist policy.

    May 31, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. John-Black Hills/SD

    I can't imagine how the republicans could find enough members who would agree with what would be appropriate for a filibuster. The republicans have already shot themselves in the foot by allowing Limbaugh, Cheney, and Gingrich to speak for the party. The republicans have allowed their party become grotesque in its appearance, that's not good since it only gives Americans a one party democracy. But do I know, I'm just a voter.

    May 31, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. mjtimber

    "Troubling judical record"? I've hardly seen any analysis of her record. Only one case has made any dent, and they didn't really even do a full hearing, only a confirmation of the previous decision. A full review of her case history on discrimination cases shows 96 cases, with 78 against the plaintiff, and only 10 in favor of the complaint, 9 of these unanimous. So, in a total of 1% of cases is there even the possibility that she is "racist". This is from the Tom Goldstein at the SCOTUS blog - you know, people who actually know something about legal judgments. Instead of this idiotic dittoheading.


    I find it difficult to believe that you are Hispanic, since you haven't even done a modicum of research on La Raza. They are consistently on the record in favor of enforcing immigration laws.

    May 31, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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