Sessions ‘flabbergasted’ by Sotomayor

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Sunday said he’s “flabbergasted” by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy.

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Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sotomayor’s views on justice are too heavily influenced by her identity and indicated he has serious reservations about her nomination.

“I am really flabbergasted by the depth and consistency of her philosophical critique of the ideal of impartial justice,” Sessions said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Sessions said he’s uncomfortable that Sotomayor has “advocated a view that suggests that your personal experiences, even prejudices,” will influence decisions.

That, he added, “is a blow at the very ideal of American justice.”

He also said such views can determine a justice’s opinions more often on the Supeme Court than on lower courts.

Sessions’s comments come one day before Sotomayor's confirmation hearings open on Monday. Sotomayor, Obama’s first pick for the high court, appears set to sail through to confirmation given the Democratic 60-seat majority in the Senate.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday predicted Sotomayor would win as many or more than the 78 votes won by Chief Justice John Roberts in his confirmation hearing.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), appearing with Sessions, said his colleague was “grasping at straws” in trying to criticize Sotomayor.

“Here's a woman who was a mainstream judge and who deserves respect as a judge,” Leahy said.

Leahy said he has discussed the concerns raised by Sessions with Sotomayor, who would be the first Latina Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor, Leahy went on, said that “ultimately and completely” the law controls her opinions, and not any personal bias.

“Anything else is nitpicking and gives the impressions that a lot of people were going to oppose anybody, anybody that President Obama came up with,” Leahy said.