Graham to Sotomayor: Do You Have a Temperament Problem?

Created: July 14, 2009 17:02 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Ouch. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just lit into Sonia Sotomayor for being “a terror on the bench” and “nasty to lawyers,” and for attacking lawyers she disagrees with, citing the comments of anonymous lawyers quoted in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary.

“You stand out like a sore thumb in terms of your temperament,” he charged. “What’s your answer to these criticisms?”

Sotomayor: “I do ask tough questions in oral argument. … When I ask lawyers tough questions it’s to give them an opportunity to explain their positions on both sides and to persuade me that they’re right. I do know that in the Second Circuit, because we only give litigants ten minutes of oral arguments each, that processes are different in the Second Circuit than in most circuits across the country. Our court is generally described as a hot bench. … That means that they’re peppered with questions. … Lots of lawyers who are unfamiliar with the process in the Second Circuit find that process difficult and challenging.”

Graham interrupted her. “They find you difficult and challenging more than your colleagues,” he said, adding: “I never liked appearing before a judge who was a bully. Do you think you have a temperament problem?”

Sotomayor tried to say no, but Graham interrupted her again.

“I would suggest to you as you go forward that these statements are striking,” he said. “They’re not about your colleagues. Maybe these hearings are a time for self-reflection.”

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