June 10, 2009

Debate over the Hearing Date

Yesterday's announcement by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings will begin on July 13th has already prompted criticism on the part of Republican lawmakers, who argue that combing through the judge's 17 year record will require more time. Seeing as Harry Reid had not yet bothered to read any of her opinions by June 2nd, it appears that Republicans are not the only ones in need of an extention (although Reid admits he probably will not have read any of them even after the hearings are finished).

"I'm really a bit surprised," Sessions remarked. "I don't think our side has the time to do this right. ... That's a rushed time frame, and I don't think that's necessary."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is quoted in the same article: "An arbitrary date on this nomination, when we're not clear yet how long it's going to take to work our way through her extensive record ... strikes me as not a good way to proceed."

"She has 10 times as many decisions as Roberts did. It takes a long time to go through that material. We'll simply have to wait and see how that review goes," Senator John Kyl added.

The fact that some questions have arisen over omissions in Sotomayor's Senate questionnaire, as the Judicial Confirmation Network reports, only increases the difficulty of the process.

While Sotomayor's hearing is set to begin only 48 days after Obama announced her nomination, both John Roberts' and Samuel Alito's hearings began after longer periods of time. A total of 55 days had passed from the day Roberts was nominated to the date of his hearing, and Alito's hearing began 70 days after his nomination was announced. Furthermore, neither Bush nominee had as many years of experience on the bench prior to their nominations, a fact that the Obama administration enjoys touting.

Perhaps, then, they should also be willing to admit, in the name of fairness, that more time is needed before lawmakers can vote on her suitability for such a prominent position. . . .