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Sotomayor hearings: Arlen Specter tries to defuse 'wise Latina' controversy

July 15, 2009 | 11:29 am


Arlen Specter, the five-term Senate veteran, just did his best to try to put the "wise Latina" business to rest.

He said Republicans (and remember, until this April, Specter was one) have made "a mountain out of a molehill." Specter, a former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that all Supreme Court justices are products of their background and experience, specifically listing Sandra Day O'Connor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

Specter, who has served in the Senate since 1980, said that Alito, during his confirmation hearings, talked about the discrimination his Italian immigrant parents faced in America and that Scalia talked of being "in a racial minority." He quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote "the life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience."

Of course, if Specter were still a Republican, his calling out his colleagues on this matter would be more newsworthy. And few expect Jeff Sessions and the other GOP members of the panel to take their cues from a defector.

-- James Oliphant

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Photo: Arlen Specter. Credit: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg News