Monday, July 20, 2009
The Huffington Post
If you read the liberal blogosphere, you know about Senator Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions's history of dubious racial statements. If you're following on most of the mainstream media, you don't. You might even buy the Alabama Republican's not-so-subtle assertion that Sotomayor is a "racist" -- discriminating against whites -- while Sessions is above any considerations of color. This will change only if some Democratic Senator on the judicial committee (though probably not Al Franken) calls Session on his game, and calls him on his history.
Sessions, as you may know, was rejected for a federal court seat after calling the NAACP "un-American" because it "forced civil rights down the throats of people." He also called a white attorney a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans. And during a murder investigation of the Ku Klux Klan, he joked, as black former assistant US Attorney Thomas Figures testified in Sessions's original hearings, about how he had no problems with the Klan until he discovered they were pot smokers. He also warned Figures to "be careful what you say to white folks." It's ugly stuff, and consistent with his racially charged questioning of Judge Sotomayor: He said she should have voted with a fellow Puerto Rican judge whose opinions he endorsed, asking, "Is there any instance in which you'd let your prejudice impact your decisions?"
But the major media still hasn't covered Sessions's history. It's too loaded, jarring, and ugly. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin did raise related issues, saying: "What's worth noting about what Jeff Sessions -- the line of questioning, was that being a white man, that's normal. Everybody else has biases and prejudices ... but the white man, they don't have any ethnicity, they don't have any gender, they're just like the normal folks."
But the worst of the history remains largely buried, and therefore invisible to most of the public. For that to change, some Democratic senator on the judicial committee must breach Senate decorum, and say bluntly and unequivocally that someone with Sessions's history can't say Sotomayor's relationship to her racial identity makes her less fit to be a Supreme Court Justice. They'll have to say that so strongly that the major media has to cover it, and therefore make it central to the hearings....(Remainder.)