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Sessions Slips

Just after meeting one-on-one with nominee Sonia Sotomayor, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, announced that he would like to delay the Supreme Court confirmation hearings until September.

Some have theorized that conservatives want the delay because the recent murder of abortion doctor George Tiller will make it difficult for them to press their social agenda during the Senate hearings.

Obama has said that he would like the hearings to take place before the August Congressional break. But Sessions announced:

I don’t think that it’s good to rush this nomination. … We’ve got until October 5th for the nominee to take office. That’s the date that Justice Souter will be departing.

The only problem with this is that it isn’t true. In his resignation letter to Obama, Souter said he would retire when the Supreme Court starts its summer recess, likely around the end of June.

But hey, Republicans have forced Minnesota to survive with only one senator for seven months now, they would probably love for the Supreme Court to be short one liberal justice for a while.



  1. Daniel wrote:

    That’s just semantics. Justice Souter is leaving this summer. But the court is on recess until October. So no one is even in DC during the break. If there is a vacancy over the summer, who cares. It has minimal practical affect on the courts work.

    This is the type of stupid game that is unbecoming of everyone involved.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Daniel, it sounds like it is you playing a “stupid game”. What you say sounds like a good counter-argument, but it isn’t, really.

    Yes, Sessions said “when Justice Souter will be departing” and that date is the end of June, not October 5th. As you say, that’s just “semantics” (or a simple misstatement).

    But you’re wrong when you say “no one is even in DC during the break.” The SCOTUS does handle appeals year round, especially immediate stays. Those are divided up among the justices, with each assigned a region. And the court itself decides what cases they will hear before the court opens the first Monday in October, which amounts to a month or two of work (which is probably why their “summer break” ends at the beginning of October). Justices also perform other duties when the court is not in session (e.g., Souter is the circuit justice for the 1st and 3rd circuits).

    Not to mention that a new Supreme Court justice needs to find and hire clerks, set up office, move to DC, disengage from their old job, and hundreds of other things. Sessions wants to delay the hearings until September. Unless he has a damn good reason, it sounds like simple obstructionism to me.

    Finally, what if a miracle happens and the Senate manages to block Sotomayor? How long will it take to nominate a new justice and have hearings? Could the new justice possibly be confirmed before the court opens?

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  3. Sammy wrote:

    Iron, your last paragraph is exactly what I was thinking. It’s seems not only plausible but probable that Sessions hopes that a filibuster or other delay will throw a huge monkey wrench into the deal.

    Also, how much you wanna bet the dirt diggers are scrounging to find any skeletons in Ms. Sotomayor’s closet?

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  4. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    To, uh, the _other_ Daniel – The longer this is dragged out, the more she’ll wane in people’s minds, the less the outcry will be if her confirmation is defeated, the longer it will take for the White House to go through the rigmarole of vetting, interviewing, flying in, and deciding on someone else.

    October is also the target for the healthcare bill, and if the news is on Sotomayor being filibustered, it will give that much less umph to the push for healthcare.

    What really bothers me is that Souter is not a liberal. Why the hell are people automatically liberal just because they don’t fit the definition of a conservative? Think about it. Maybe, just maybe, reality does have a liberal bias, sometimes. *shock*awe*

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
  5. Chuck Makela wrote:

    The words of Senator Sessions, “I don’t think it’s good to rush this nomination.”, make me cringe. Not too many months ago, I watched a “Do Nothing-Maintain the Status Quo” administration take this country right down the tubes. The question comes up: Why did the Bush Administration stall on so many issues and turn its back on others? Because everybody was getting filthy rich, that’s why.

    Republicans always seem to live in the here and now and very much dislike change. The prevailing attitude seems to be, “Let’s make our fortunes now while we can no matter what the future consequences may be.” If these folks had a slogan, it would probably read “The Here and Now Forever”. Quite a paradox in terms don’t you think?

    Judge Sotomayor would no doubt be an excellent Supreme Court justice making unbiased decisions while keeping the best interests of this and future generations in mind. Let’s cut the Republican crap and get her appointed now.

    Incidentally, speaking of future generations, ask a staunch conservative the following question: “Do you think the decisions of the past administration will help or hinder the next generation?” Your reply will probably be, “The next generation? I’m really not familiar with that term. Do you mean like people in the future?”

    Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink