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Sotomayor hearings: Orrin Hatch brings up New Haven firefighters case

July 14, 2009 |  9:36 am


Orrin Hatch turned his attention to the New Haven firefighters case, and challenged Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the way her U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals panel chose to hear the case and issue its decision in the case, in particular, relying on the lower court’s 78-page analysis.

“Why did your panel not do its own analysis? You yourself said the case raised difficult questions. Why did you not analyze the case yourself? Whether you got it right or wrong, and the Supreme Court did find that you did get it wrong, I don’t understand the claim that you were sticking to binding clear long-standing precedent? ... You’re under a lot of pressure here, but I wanted to cover that case because I think it’s important that that case be covered.”

Without waiting for an answer, Hatch changed the subject.

“There is a rumor that People for the American Way has been smearing Frank Ricci -- you have nothing to do with this, I know -- because he may be willing to be  witness in these proceedings. I hope that’s not true, and I know that you had nothing to do with it. I am making the point that that is the kind of stuff that doesn’t belong in Supreme Court hearings.”

(Ricci is listed as a potential witness by Republican senators. Last Friday, according to news reports, People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, circulated an e-mail urging reporters to investigate Ricci’s “troubled and litigious work history.” The backlash was immediate and fierce.)

Sotomayor, for her part, looked appropriately appalled. “Absolutely. I would never endorse or approve ... that kind of conduct. Reprehensible.”

-- Robin Abcarian

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor during the second day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill July 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)