AP again ignored Sessions' standard on judicial confirmation process

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

In a report on Sen. Jeff Sessions' request for more information related to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's work with a Puerto Rican civil rights group, the AP again ignored that Sessions urged fast action on Justice Samuel Alito's nomination, reportedly saying, "You don't have to read everything he's written."

In a July 3 article, the Associated Press reported on Sen. Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) demands for board meeting minutes and other documents related to Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's activities with a Puerto Rican civil rights group and stated that "[t]he White House is strongly resisting Republicans' suggestions that the hearings should be delayed to give them more time to review the group's documents so they can draw conclusions about Sotomayor." The article further reported that Sessions said additional information, on top of the related documents Sotomayor has already provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, "could shed light on [her] judicial approach, particularly her view of racial preferences in hiring." However, the AP again ignored Sessions' reported assertion during Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation process that "[m]y personal view is, let's finish it this year; let's not have it hanging out there. ... You don't have to read everything he's written."

After former President Bush announced Alito's nomination on October 31, 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 4, 2005:

In fact, [then-Republican Sen. Arlen] Specter [PA] was under quite a bit of pressure from his Republican colleagues to accede to the White House's wishes and to get Alito on the high court bench -- and [Justice Sandra Day] O'Connor off it -- as soon as possible.

Before the announcement, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) expressed impatience with the process.

"My personal view is, let's finish it this year; let's not have it hanging out there," he said. "You don't have to read everything he's written."

Several media outlets, including the AP, previously reported Sessions' call in early June to delay Sotomayor's confirmation hearing until the fall, without noting his reported comments about Alito's confirmation process.

From the July 3 AP article:

A top Republican pressed for more information Thursday about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's ties to a Puerto Rican civil rights group he said took extreme positions on race, as the White House argued that the material was irrelevant to the judge's nomination.

White House Counsel Greg Craig told Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in a letter that board meeting minutes and other papers detailing the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund's activities while Sotomayor was an outside adviser shouldn't impact her nomination because she had no role in writing or approving them. But Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate committee that will consider her nomination, said the papers could shed light on Sotomayor's judicial approach, particularly her view of racial preferences in hiring.

"During her time there, the organization took extreme positions on legal issues ranging from the death penalty to abortion to racial quotas," Sessions said in a statement. He said it was "absurd" for the White House to call the documents irrelevant.

[...]

"Perhaps there is confusion about Judge Sotomayor's role with PRLDEF [Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund], and that confusion may account for your unusual interest," Craig wrote. "Let me be clear: On Judge Sotomayor's behalf, we submitted all documents the committee requested of her, and we did so in record time."

Craig also defended PRLDEF, calling it "a highly respected civil rights fund."

Sessions noted, however, that Sotomayor held leadership posts on the group's board. And he suggested her participation in PRLDEF, which brought several lawsuits on behalf of minority employees alleging racial discrimination in hiring and promotion, could help show a propensity on the judge's part for using the legal system to advantage minorities in the workplace.

On Monday, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge that rejected the reverse discrimination claims of white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who were denied promotions because too few minorities scored highly on the qualifying exam.

"During Judge Sotomayor's time at PRLDEF, the organization launched a series of legal actions to throw out the test results for other city employees on the basis of race just like in the New Haven case. What role did Judge Sotomayor play in the decision to bring these cases?" Sessions asked in his statement.

Craig's letter to Sessions constituted the White House's response to a series of questions the Alabaman sent Sotomayor last week about the document search at PRLDEF. He wanted to know whether Sotomayor sent her own representatives to comb through the organization's archives, who they were, whether they copied any information that wasn't given to the Judiciary Committee, and whether they left the boxes "fully intact."

Craig said it was his office that sent private lawyers helping with Sotomayor's nomination to pore through the documents, and they sent all "responsive" documents to the panel.

"No one working for the White House removed any documents from the archives boxes they reviewed," Craig wrote.

The White House is strongly resisting Republicans' suggestions that the hearings should be delayed to give them more time to review the group's documents so they can draw conclusions about Sotomayor.

The best evidence "of how she'd be as a judge are the 17 years of legal opinions that she has written and that she herself has worked on -- not a box or boxes of documents that she didn't write, review or approve," said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman. "I think there has been plenty of time to review the record."

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Sotomayor Nomination
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