Media ignore Sessions' double standard on confirmation timing

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Several print outlets quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions' call to delay Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing, citing her lengthy judicial record, but did not note that Sessions reportedly urged fast action on Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation process, saying, "You don't have to read everything he's written."

On June 3, several print outlets quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) call to delay Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing until the fall, citing her lengthy judicial record, but did not note that Sessions reportedly called for completing Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation process within two months of his nomination, saying of Alito's record, "You don't have to read everything he's written." For instance, the Associated Press reported that while Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) "wants the process to begin next month, with the goal of holding a final confirmation vote before Congress leaves in early August," Sessions "says he'd rather go slower delving into Sotomayor's voluminous record of rulings during her 17 years as a federal judge, with hearings to be held in September." However, as the Huffington Post's Sam Stein has noted, after President Bush announced Alito's nomination on October 31, 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a November 4, 2005, article (accessed via the Nexis database) that Sessions "expressed impatience with the process" and quoted him saying: "My personal view is, let's finish it this year; let's not have it hanging out there. ...You don't have to read everything he's written."

At the time of his nomination, Alito had been a federal circuit court judge for more than 15 years.

June 3 reports citing Sessions' call to delay Sotomayor's confirmation hearing without noting his previous comments include:

  • A Wall Street Journal article quoted Sessions stating: "There are 3,000 or 4,000 cases that are part of her 17-year record. ... They need to be examined, and they will be examined. I don't think it's good to rush."
  • A Los Angeles Times article reported that Sessions "indicated that September hearings were possible because time was needed to study Sotomayor's record."
  • A McClatchy Newspapers article reported of Sessions: "He urged Leahy to slow the confirmation process -- the two will discuss that Wednesday -- and wouldn't say that he was fully satisfied with Sotomayor's answers or her record."
  • A Washington Times article reported that Sessions "would like wait until September for the hearings so senators will have time to pore over her lengthy judicial record."
  • A USA Today blog post reported that Sessions "wants the confirmation hearings pushed back to September" and quoted his comment that "I don't think it's good to rush."

By contrast, The New York Times reported: "But Judge Sotomayor's supporters pointed out that Mr. Sessions's cautious approach seemed to stand in contrast to his view of Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation to the court in 2005, when he urged fast action. 'Let's not leave it hanging out there,' Mr. Sessions said at the time. 'We don't need to read everything he has written.' " The Washington Post also noted Sessions' 2005 comments.

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