Top GOPer on Judiciary Shunned By Panel 23 Yrs Ago

If this doesn't sum up the current status of the Republican party, I don't know what would: The Senate GOP has chosen as its top member on the Judiciary Committee a hard right conservative rejected by the panel -- then in the hands of the Republicans -- for a federal judgeship two decades ago on account of racially tinged remarks. Here's The Hill with the scoop.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) will take over the ranking member position on the Senate Judiciary Committee after striking a deal with his more senior colleagues over the weekend, sources confirm to The Hill.


The move is likely to please conservative organizations around Washington who are gearing up for a fight over the eventual nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. The departure of Specter, who had long been one of the leading GOP voices on judicial appointees, had robbed the Republican conference of an obvious spokesman.

Here's the AP on Senator Jeff Sessions' previous go round with the Judiciary Committee.

Sessions would bring a unique perspective to the committee. Two decades ago, the Senate rejected his nomination as a U.S. district judge by President Ronald Reagan over allegations that his career as a lawyer and U.S. attorney in Alabama showed a pattern of being racially insensitive. Ironically, it was Specter who helped seal his defeat by joining with Democratic opposition.

Twenty three years ago, Senate Republicans believed that Sessions was too "racially insensitive" to serve as a federal judge -- but now they want him to be their leader in determining who should and should not be on the bench, including the Supreme Court? For a party trying to convince the nation that it hasn't veered off the far right fringe of our politics, out of the mainstream, this certainly appears to be an odd move.

Tags: Republicans, SCOTUS, Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court (all tags)



How confirmation hearings will proceed

Chez Pazienza:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont, Chairman): These proceedings are now called to order. The chair recognizes the...

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma): If... If I may, Mr. Chairman. I think it's imperative that the nominee immediately address rumors that she once masturbated to thoughts of Karl Marx. Is that true?

Sen. Patrick Leahy: I'm sorry, Senator Coburn -- but I fail to see the...

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina): ARE YOU NOT A WITCH, MA'AM?

Sen. Leahy (banging gavel repeatedly): Please. This hearing will come to order, Senators.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) (suddenly standing and raising his finger): Mr. Chairman, the distinguished gentleman from the Independent Republic of Texas wishes to be heard. Remember the Alamo!

It goes on.  Very good for a laugh.

by Senate Guru 2009-05-04 08:45AM | 0 recs
That was a long time ago

23 years is a long time ago. I don't know anyone who can say they are the same person they were even a year ago let alone 23.

I don't know much about Sessions current views on race but this isn't enough for me to condemn him or label him.

by world dictator 2009-05-04 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: That was a long time ago

I agree, I mean Robert Byrd was a member of Klan for pete sake. All I am saying is dont condemn peoplke for somethign they may have said or been a part of 23 years ago, if they show behavior otherwise today.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-05-04 10:33AM | 0 recs
There's a differance

Byrd has publicly owned up to his failings and admitted he was wrong.  Sessions has not.  In his hearings it was learned that Sessions called the NAACP a communist organization, referred to a black man as boy, and honestly tried to say he wasn't racist because he had shared a motel room with a black attorney.  I shit you not. 05/senator-who-praised-segregationist-ju dges-will-lead-opposition-to-obama-nomin ees.php

The burden of proof here should be on Sessions, not on us.

by ARDem 2009-05-04 01:14PM | 0 recs
my memory is that most Republicans

wanted to confirm Sessions 23 years ago--Specter was more like the exception in their caucus.

If they want Sessions in this position now, I'm not going to argue with them--I don't think he'll be the best public face for the Republicans when confirmation hearings come around.

by desmoinesdem 2009-05-04 09:55AM | 0 recs
I only have one thing to say to this.


by ARDem 2009-05-04 09:56AM | 0 recs
Jefferson is a safe choice to be attack dog...

Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III, yup, a true scion of the old antebellum south is so safe in White Evangelical Alabama that if someone has to go at a Sotomayor, very little chance a hispanic consitutancy in AL will rise up against him.

Hell, attacking a Hispanic SCOTUS appt is a PLUS in his part of the country.

He's a lilly-white free shot, from the center of the NEW Republican party, the hard white old evangelical south.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-04 10:26AM | 0 recs

I'm suprised every day by the Republican Party. But really, I didn't expect them to choose an honest to god racist to pick court nominees.

I mean really. Have your spokesmen over the battle to potential confirm what, the third racial minority to the Supreme Court, be a guy who was rejected on a bipartisan vote by that same panel for being a racist.

I mean, wow.

by Populista 2009-05-04 10:51AM | 0 recs


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