02-19-2017  10:48 pm      •     

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans are divided over how aggressively to go after Sonia Sotomayor, a family feud about the tone of the debate over confirming the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

There are concerns raised by an increasing number of GOP lawmakers and conservative leaders about the strident rhetoric that certain prominent Republicans have used to describe Sotomayor. Some are denouncing right-wing groups for their negative advertisements against the federal appeals judge.

A group of prominent conservatives, seeking to change the terms of the discussion, plans to call on Republicans this coming week to hold "a great debate'' over President Barack Obama's nominee. The debate would focus on Sotomayor's potential effect on important high court decisions and on the differences between how Democrats and Republicans pick judges.

In a letter to be sent to GOP senators Monday, the Third Branch Conference admonishes Republicans for having "slumbered'' during confirmation hearings for the last two Democratic nominees (Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both by President Bill Clinton), and concludes by saying, "We expect more from you'' this time.

The Associated Press obtained a draft of the letter, signed by conservative heavyweights including Richard Viguerie of ConservativeHQ.com, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, and Gary Bauer of American Values.

The letter acknowledges that blocking a vote to confirm Sotomayor is unrealistic. But it urges Republicans to use the debate as an "extraordinary educable moment'' that makes it "crystal clear why Americans should believe that Republicans are intelligent defenders of the Constitution, or not.''

Manuel Miranda, the chairman of the group and a former senior Senate aide, said he is concerned that GOP leaders, knowing they lack the votes to reject Sotomayor and worried about the political consequences of a prolonged opposition, will pass up the chance for a drawn-out debate about her record, and the parties' dueling philosophies on a judge's role.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have branded Sotomayor -- the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was born and raised in New York -- a "racist'' for past remarks about how her ethnicity affected her judging. On Friday, Limbaugh said picking Sotomayor was comparable to nominating former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke for the job.

Other leading Republicans, aware of the political risks of opposing the first Hispanic woman nominated to the court, are struggling to change the terms of the debate. Sen. John Cornyn, the head of his party's Senate campaign committee, lashed out at Limbaugh and Gingrich for their words.

"This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent,'' Cornyn told National Public Radio.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, GOP strategist Peggy Noonan dismissed as "idiots'' those conservatives who were out to attack or brand Sotomayor.

Much criticism has been directed at a coalition of outside interest groups engaged in a public-relations offensive against Sotomayor. One group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, began an advertising campaign the day Obama named Sotomayor that bashes her record and concludes that "America deserves better.''

"These things just taint the debate because it causes (people) to become callous toward our message. It becomes a 'cry wolf' situation,'' Miranda said.

Miranda resigned from his Senate job in 2004 amid an investigation over his role in inappropriately gaining computer access to Democratic memos -- leaked to national newspapers -- that laid out strategy for blocking President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. He admitted he was responsible for the breach and has said he did nothing wrong.

Miranda has since become a leading conservative critic of Republicans' approach to judicial nominations.

GOP leaders appear determined to insist on a thorough debate. They circulated a document late Friday, titled "It's Going To Take Time,'' that is filled with quotes from senior Democrats who said following the selections of the last two Supreme Court justices to be confirmed, GOP nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito, that the Senate should take its time considering the nominations.

For Republicans, opposing Sotomayor is important to their core supporters, including social conservatives who regard the courts as a battleground. But the party is struggling to reach beyond that base and draw more diversity -- a goal that could be frustrated with a bitterly partisan fight, especially given Sotomayor's background.

Gary Marx, the executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network, said the divisions were more about style and tone than substance. He said conservatives agree that Sotomayor is a "judicial activist'' -- someone who puts her own views above the law -- regardless of how they express themselves.

"We can have a healthy debate when we focus on her own writings, her published writings and spoken words,'' Marx said.


Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals


Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow