Senator Leahy to GOP: “Stop the Racial Politics”

July 19, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont took aim at the GOP and their display of divisive “racial politics” in the contentious campaign waged against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Ironically, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama, who was denied a federal judgeship in the 1980s, due to racially insensitive statements, took umbrage at Leahy’s charges, claiming he and fellow Republicans did nothing wrong.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Leahy blasted Republicans for attacking Sotomayor’s board membership of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, comparing the attacks to former African-American nominees who were targeted for their membership in the NAACP.

Leahy fears our political discourse may “go back” to the race-baiting days when some African-American nominees were charged with engaging in un-American and militant activities, because of their membership in civil rights groups.

“Stop the racial politics,” admonished Leahy. “The same arguments were used against Thurgood Marshall and others,” said Leahy. “I think it’s wrong.”

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III said, “There’s nothing wrong with asking what her personal views are regarding positions she took as member of an organization.” Sessions claims he hasn’t made up his mind on his vote for Sotomayor.

“I was troubled by a number of the things the nominee has said,” said Sessions.

What has not been well publicized during Sessions’ questioning of Sotomayor during the nomination process, is his racist background that led to his own party voting against his nomination for the U.S. District Court in Alabama in 1986.

As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, Sessions was criticized for selectively prosecuting voter fraud cases against civil rights activists in black communities. Sessions also made numerous racially insensitive remarks, which he largely admitted making during his confirmation hearings, characterizing the remarks, as jokes.

Some of the remarks attributed to Sessions, include referring to the NAACP and the ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired,” and that the civil rights groups “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” Sessions called a white lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases.

Sessions also “joked” that he “used to think they [Ku Klux Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions called a black lawyer “boy” and warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.”

Sessions defended himself against charges of racism by helpfully informing lawmakers that his children went to integrated schools and that he even shared a hotel room with a black attorney on several occasions.

Despite Sessions’ Kumbaya experience of sharing a hotel room with a black man, the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee voted ten to eight against sending Sessions’ federal judgeship nomination to the Senate floor.



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