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Sotomayor hearings: People for the American Way fights back

July 14, 2009 | 11:16 am

While the senators were taking a lunch break before resuming today’s confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor, the folks over at the People for the American Way were busy churning out a response to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s claim that the organization had been “smearing Frank Ricci.”

Earlier today, Hatch (R-Utah) singled out the organization, a liberal group that had urged reporters to investigate Ricci, a key protagonist in the New Haven, Conn., firefighter case, for his alleged “troubled and litigious work history.”

Hatch said: "There's a rumor that People for the American Way, that these people have been smearing Frank Ricci. ... I hope that’s not true."

The group’s response, which it e-mailed to reporters a few minutes ago: “It's not true. With all due respect to Senator Hatch, he's attacking a straw man. It is not a smear to point out than an individual used the law to protect his interests. It's time to get past this distraction and have an honest discussion about the importance of anti-discrimination laws for all people.”

Ricci was the main litigant in the case filed by white firefighters against New Haven, Conn., which denied them promotions even though African American firefighters had lower test scores. The Supreme Court found for Ricci, overruling a panel that included Sotomayor.

When Hatch asked Sotomayor about attacks against Ricci, she agreed with him and said they were unwarranted and wrong.

-– Kate Linthicum

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