July 12, 2009

Ricci, don't use that number

For some reason, Senate Republicans have retained New Haven, CT firefighter Frank Ricci to testify against Sonia Sotomayor this week.

Writes Dahlia Lithwick:
Ultimately, there are two ways to frame Frank Ricci's penchant for filing employment discrimination complaints: Perhaps he was repeatedly victimized by a cruel cadre of employers, first for his dyslexia, then again for his role as a whistle-blower, and then a third time for just being white. If that is so, we should all be deeply grateful for the robust civil rights laws that protect Americans from unfair discrimination in the workplace. I look forward to hearing Republican Sen. John Cornyn's version of that speech next week.

The other way to look at Frank Ricci is as a serial plaintiff—one who reacts to professional slights and setbacks by filing suit, threatening to file suit, and more or less complaining his way up the chain of command. That's not the typical GOP heartthrob, but I look forward to hearing Sen. Cornyn's version of that speech next week as well.
More to the point:
His views on jurisprudence seem to begin and end with the proposition that legal protections against discrimination are great when they work in his favor, and unconscionable when they don't.
Kind of like the classic Republican take on "judicial activism" — you got your bad kind (liberal) and you got your good kind (conservative).

So that's why Republicans are parading Ricci: He's one of them.

In today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III rails petulantly* against "empathy," but then highlights the fact that Ricci has a learning disability, thus collapsing his entire argument.

This could well be a very embarrassing week for Senate Republicans. My impression is that Sotomayor is smarter than all the Republicans on that Committee put together, and will probably encounter the most probing, substantive questioning from the Democrats.

For example, compare Sessions's crybaby talk with Russ Feingold's intended focus. It's obvious who the grownups are this time around.

Because a sideshow is about all the GOP can hope to bring.

* While completely ignoring her 16-year record as a federal judge, likely because it contains zero evidence for Sessions's gravest fears.

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