Blame Everyone Involved for Shallow Sotomayor Hearings

Dems go lightly; GOP eyes history outside of court
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 20, 2009 8:55 AM CDT
Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, right, talks with the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – With Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation a virtual certainty and her appointment unlikely to change the direction of the Supreme Court, last week's toothless hearings held few surprises. Except, that is, for observers who were hoping the Senate Judiciary Committee would press for substantive Q-and-A, Joan Biskupic writes for USA Today. “I was dumbstruck by the fact that the GOP senators spent so little time trying to pin her down,” says a former high court clerk.

The proceedings were "notable for a lack of meat from the nominee and her questioners," Biskupic writes. Democrats seemed to want to go easy on Sotomayor, while their GOP counterparts scrutinized her statements outside of court rather than exploring her philosophy on school vouchers, separation of church and state, or campaign finance. Jeff Sessions, the committee’s ranking Republican, said yesterday concentrating on more substantive questions like "future rulings ... would have been improper.”