GOP Hopes Witnesses Can Prompt Sotomayor Meltdown

Posted July 16, 2009 at 9:16am

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday face their last chance to trip up President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as they look to outside witnesses to make the case that the nominee would rule with partiality. With Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) kicking off questioning by focusing on a controversial New Haven, Conn., affirmative action case, Republicans were setting the stage for the testimony later in the day from Frank Ricci, a white firefighter at the center of the case.Sotomayor sat on a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the decision by the city to throw out a promotions test on which minority firefighter candidates did not score well. The Supreme Court earlier this year overturned that ruling, in which Ricci was the plaintiff.Although Judiciary Republicans have largely avoided questions about Sotomayor’s record as a judge, they — as well as conservative activists — have used the case as an example of what they see as a liberal bent to Sotomayor’s approach to the bench. The week of hearings have focused largely on Sotomayor’s statements, which GOP Members say show she would allow her life experiences to influence her decisions.Ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has asked Ricci to testify during the hearings. Although outside testimony is rarely a major factor in the confirmation process, Ricci’s testimony is likely to provide one of the few moments of partisan drama during the otherwise staid confirmation proceedings.