Republican Witnesses Against Sotomayor Include Arab-American Internment Endorser

By Debayani Kar Jul 09, 2009

The Senate Judiciary Committee today released the witness list called by Democrats and Republicans for next week’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The Republican-picked lineup is disappointingly unsurprising, especially when given that the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), once opined that the KKK was OK (except for the pot smokers). The Republican witnesses will be as follows: Frank Ricci (left), of course, is the firefighter whose discrimination case was decided favorably, 5-4, by the Supreme Court last week. Ricci and his white firefighter colleagues sued the New Haven fire department for alleged racial discrimination due to the throwing out of test scores related to a promotion. Republicans have drawn attention to Sotomayor’s actions related to this case to show her supposed bias against whites, despite rational thought to the contrary.
Charmaine Yoest is President and CEO of Americans United for Life, which proudly calls itself “the first national pro-life organization in the nation.” Despite Sotomayor’s balanced record on abortion, Yoest has said her nomination threatens to “divide America.”
Sandra Froman, former President of the National Rifle Association and a current board member, was quick to sound the alarm to Republicans against Sotomayor. She penned this piece on urging NRA members to fight against her nomination.
Linda Chavez was the 2001 Labor Secretary nominee under the Bush administration who was forced to pull her name from consideration after admitting to having employed undocumented immigrants. She has since been a tireless advocate against women’s right to choose and worker’s right to unionize. She is currently chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity.
Talking Points Memo has reminded us of Peter Kirsanow’s chequered past. As a 2002 member of the Commission on Civil Rights, of which he is now a Bush-appointed commissioner, Kirsanow said he “could forsee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for Arab Americans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country” according to a 2002 Knight-Ridder report.
Of course Sotomayor should get asked the tough questions — that’s what confirmation hearings are for. But that’s not really what’s happening here; instead, the witnesses seem chosen to discredit Sotomayor and Obama in the eyes of the already-suspicious white conservative base, rather than as part of an earnest investigation of her beliefs. We’re at a time when Republicans are seeing their power as a party diminish, due in no small part to regular conservative-backed efforts to disenfranchise people of color — a demographic that soon won’t be a minority in the US. And that’s why it’s so disappointing to see them drop the ball on Sonia Sotomayor, an eminently confirmable SCOTUS nominee, in favor of the same old base-pandering race politics.