Left-Wing Smear Machine Takes Fight to Sen. Sessions Home Turf in SCOTUS Battle

May 28th, 2009 8:04 PM

You'd expect to see this in the liberal blogosphere or possibly some of the national mainstream media outlets with an obvious agenda. But now some of the preemptive strikes against Republican senators leading up to the Senate confirmation hearings and eventual vote to confirm President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, are finding their way into local newspapers.

An op-ed published in The Anniston (Ala.) Star on May 28 by Ari Rabin-Havt, the managing director of the left-wing Media Matters Action Network, attacked the new ranking Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. He alleged that if Sessions and other Senate Republicans didn't commit to taking a filibuster off the table for Sotomayor's confirmation, they would be guilty of hypocrisy.

"However, many conservatives, in a desperate attempt to reclaim relevance, are already calling on Senate Republicans to filibuster Obama's highly qualified pick," Rabin-Havt wrote. "Not only would this be one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy in the 220-year history of the Senate, it would be an admission by Republicans that their actions four years ago were nothing more than a political stunt."

Despite Rabin-Havt's attempt to discredit Sessions, the senator has been on record stating he disfavors filibusters for this judicial nomination, even though Obama himself back in January 2006 said he would be in favor of filibustering President George W. Bush's nominee Samuel Alito, before conceding "the effort would be futile" and criticizing his Democratic colleagues "for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court's changing ideological face," as Jeff Zeleny pointed out for the Chicago Tribune on Jan. 30, 2006.

The Anniston Star, the paper that published the op-ed, takes pride in being a farm team for bigger papers, one in particular with its own ideological bent on the SCOTUS issue, The New York Times. Nonetheless, the Star published the op-ed, which warned Sessions and his Republican colleagues not to even think about filibustering Sotomayor, otherwise they would be guilty of using the "Constitution as a political prop."

"If Sessions supports a filibuster on Sotomayor's nomination, he will make it undeniably clear that he is happy to use the Constitution as a political prop," Rabin-Havt wrote. "We will be made acutely aware that he sees our founding documents as trivial things, to be revered when they are useful and cast aside when the political winds change direction. Such cynicism is far more deplorable than plain hypocrisy."

And according to Rabin-Havt, giving Sotomayor an up-or-down vote will be a true test of the junior Alabama senator's character, even though the current president, a Democrat, was reluctant to do so.

"We will learn a lot about Sessions' character in the coming weeks. Does he believe the Constitution has been amended in the last four years?" Rabin-Havt wrote. "Will he prove to be a hypocrite whose positions are dictated by the political landscape, or a lapdog to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party? Or will he remain consistent in his belief that every nominee deserves an ‘up or down vote?'"

Similar versions of Rabin-Havt's op-ed appeared in other newspaper, with the names and the quotes changed - one attacking Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in the May 27 Des Moines Register and another in the May 28 Wichita Eagle attacking Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.