Monday, August 3, 2009

Alexander supports Sonia Sotomayor confirmation; Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats laud him as "statesman"

Tennessee's senior U.S. senator Lamar Alexander has announced his support of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. From his floor statement:
Even though Judge Sotomayor's political and judicial philosophy may be different from mine, especially regarding second amendment rights, I will vote to confirm her because she is well qualified by experience, temperament, character, and intellect to serve as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
During the 8 years I was Governor of Tennessee, I appointed about 50 judges. In doing so, I looked for the same qualities Justice Roberts and Judge Sotomayor have demonstrated: intelligence, good character, restraint, respect for law, and respect for those who came before the court. I did not ask one applicant how he or she would rule on abortion or immigration or taxation. I appointed the first female circuit judge in our State and the first African-American court chancellor and the first African-American State supreme court justice. I appointed both Democrats and Republicans. That process served our State well and helped to build respect for the independence and fairness of our judiciary.
The Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats promptly praised Alexander's decision, calling it statemanship:
We thank Sen. Alexander for being a statesman instead of being a partisan demagogue. It’s important that we as a state promote tolerance and diversity in our communities and find a common ground to help all of Tennessee’s citizens.
Whether intentionally or not, Alexander's reference to his own credentials in building diversity in the Tennessee judiciary dovetails the advice of columnist Ruben Navarrette, who only one week earlier had lamented that Republicans weren't playing up their strengths in the context of Sotomayor's nomination. Here is an excerpt of Navarrette's column:
It was painful to watch them willingly surrender any shred of credit that the GOP deserves for putting Sotomayor on the road to make history as the first Latina Supreme Court justice. It was a Republican president - George H.W. Bush - who nominated Sotomayor to the federal bench in 1991. If the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were smart, they would have mentioned that fact over and over again to advance the notion that Republicans also at times open doors for women and minorities.
Navarette's column was entitled "We Are All Americans", a phrase also used by Mr. Alexander. The text is prominent on the Senator's web site, and Alexander has repeated it at least as far back as his his 1996 Presidential campaign.

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