Judge Sotomayor Witnesses

The Senate Judiciary Committee next week will hear from one of those Connecticut firefighters who ultimately won their reverse discrimination case when the Supreme Court overturned a ruling of nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

In announcing that thirty one witnesses will testify about Sotomayor after she finishes her testimony next week, there was one name that stood out.

Frank Ricci is the New Haven firefighter who passed the firefighter promotion exam in Connecticut, despite his own learning disabilities, as he became the public face for the case that was decided in his favor by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 decision.

Ricci is one of fourteen Republican witnesses, who also include conservative activist Linda Chavez and Sandy Froman, a former President of the National Rifle Association.

On the side of Sotomayor will be a series of notable names, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and former major league baseball pitcher David Cone.

All of those extra witnesses will get their say in the days after Sotomayor gets grilled by Senators.

The first time I got to see such a proceeding first hand was in the 1987 confirmation hearings for Robert Bork, who ultimately was rejected by the Senate.

Bork's positions on a host of issues were being debated several days after he had left the hearing room by among others, Lloyd Cutler, who at the time had been White House Counsel for Jimmy Carter, and would later do the same for Bill Clinton.

Cutler was going on about Constitutional War Powers in a hearing that was being chaired by then Senate Judiciary Chairman Joseph Biden.  The top Republican at the time was Sen. Strom Thurmond.

As Cutler began discussing the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which the Congress approved in August of 1964, in essence authorizing the use of force against North Vietnam, Thurmond's eyes lit up.

"I voted for that, Joe!" Thurmond said in a voice that was much too loud for the hearing, but a reminder of how long he had served in the Senate.

We'll see if we have any such happenings next week.