Sen. Jeff Sessions' opening salvo against Sonia Sotomayor today was a classic right-wing exercise in obliviousness:
I feel we've reached a fork in the road, I think, and there are stark differences. I want to be clear. I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who is not fully committed to fairness and impartiality toward every person who appears before them.
And I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision in favor of or against parties before the court.
In my view such a philosophy is disqualified. Such an approach to judging means that the umpire calling the game is not neutral, but instead feels empowered to favor one team over another. Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it's not law. In truth it's more akin to politics, and politics has no place in the courtroom.
... That is, of course, the logical flaw in the empathy standard. Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.
Aside from the dubious logic behind that last assertion -- it is, in fact, a highly revealing formulation -- the proof is always in the pudding, isn't it? One can speak high-flown phrases about color-blindness, but the test is how one actually conducts themselves both in the courtroom and in private.
And on that count, Jeff Sessions is probably one of the last people to be flinging about accusations of prejudice. The irony is, well, rich.
As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, Sessions' most notable effort was prosecuting three civil rights workers, including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., on trumped up charges of voter fraud.
Also during his illustrious career in Alabama, Sessions called the NAACP "un-American" because it, among other groups, "forced civil rights down the throats of people." A former career Justice Department official who worked with Sessions recalled an instance when he referred to a white attorney as a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans. Sessions later acknowledged having made many of the controversial remarks attributed to him, but claimed to have been joking.