The XX Factor

No More Mr. Nice GOP

If Sen. Jeff Sessions’$2 20 minutes with Sonia Sotomayor this afternoon is any indication, Republicans feel a new urgency in this second (and final) round of questioning. Before he began, Sessions’ aides distributed 70-page packets of highlighted, tabbed documents regarding Sotomayor’s tenure with the Puerto Rico Education and Legal Defense Fund. When his turn came, Sessions dispensed with the usual niceties about how well the nominee is holding up and jumped right in, accusing Sotomayor of promoting the idea that judges’ “backgrounds, sympathies, and prejudices” should and do affect judicial decisions. When she tried to rebut that characterization of her comments (Sessions had dragged out the “wise Latina” remark yet again), Sessions tersely disagreed with her, then moved on to the Second Amendment without pause.

Yesterday, Sotomayor and the senators (Democrats and Republicans alike) couldn’t apologize fast enough when they even appeared to be interrupting. Today, Sessions cut Sotomayor off several times, asking stoccato questions and blazing through the “wise Latina” remark, the Second Amendment, abortion, international law, and Sotomayor’s role with PRELDF. And yet with just 100 minutes of Republican questioning left, Sotomayor is showing no susceptibility to the “meltdown” that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said would be necessary to derail her confirmation.