CBS: Sotomayor 'Perfect Nominee,' An 'All-American Story'

On Monday, CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported on the beginning of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and declared: "To Democrats, Sotomayor is the perfect nominee. That a child of the projects would progress through Ivy League schools and later a 17-year career as a federal judge makes hers an all-American story."

The Early Show segment began with co-host Julie Chen citing poll numbers that showed the American people were not fully impressed with that "all-American story": "A new CBS poll finds that 23% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Judge Sotomayor [decrease from 33% in June], while 15% were unfavorable [up from 9% in June]. 6 in 10 are still undecided or have not heard enough yet [62%, up from 58%]. And 35% say it's very important to have another woman on the high court." An on-screen graphic of the numbers showed a shift from June, but Chen failed to note the change in people's attitudes toward Sotomayor.

Andrews did acknowledge some of Sotomator's controversial decisions and comments, including her decision in the New Haven firefighter case: "Republicans plan tough questions on why Sotomayor ruled to dismiss the discrimination claims of 18 white firefighters in New Haven, a dismissal the Supreme Court overturned." However, Andrews then remarked: "Most analysts predict her answer will be simple" and played a clip of CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen arguing: "She's going to say that she was bound by existing precedent. She picked the best standard available to her. Many and most of her colleagues on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed."

Andrews also cited Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comments: "She will also be asked about the President's demand for judicial empathy and her now famous comment that 'a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.' The question would be does this reflect an ethnic bias?" And cited M. Edward Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center: "That is a deep and serious challenge to the very notion of the rule of law. So there's plenty in her record that, as I say, ought to cause real concern."

While concluding his report, Andrews described Republican opposition to Sotomayor as futile: "Sotomayor should easily have the votes to be concerned [confirmed], and so Republicans are not only mindful of that, but they're also mindful of the fact that much of the nation's 15% Hispanic population views Sotomayor with great pride. So Republicans have promised questions to her that are challenging but also professional and respectful."

Here is a full transcript of the story:

7:05AM SEGMENT:



JULIE CHEN: Senate confirmation hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor begin today. A new CBS poll finds that 23% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Judge Sotomayor [decrease from 33% in June], while 15% were unfavorable [up from 9% in June]. 6 in 10 are still undecided or have not heard enough yet [62%, up from 58%]. And 35% say it's very important to have another woman on the high court. CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews has the very latest. Wyatt, good morning.

WYATT ANDREWS: Julie, good morning to you. A bit of history unfolds this morning. And for the first Hispanic nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin here at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, Sotomayor herself is scheduled to give her first public comments, her opening statement this afternoon, but this morning is devoted to the speeches that will be given by members of the Judiciary Committee. In the physical layout of the room, the Republicans, seven Republicans, literally will speak from here on my right, and the 12 Democrats on this committee will speak from here on my left. To Democrats, Sotomayor is the perfect nominee. That a child of the projects would progress through Ivy League schools and later a 17-year career as a federal judge makes hers an all-American story.

PATRICK LEAHY: She's the most experienced judge in nearly 100 years to go on the U.S. Supreme Court.

ANDREWS: Republicans plan tough questions on why Sotomayor ruled to dismiss the discrimination claims of 18 white firefighters in New Haven, a dismissal the Supreme Court overturned. Most analysts predict her answer will be simple.

ANDREW COHEN: She's going to say that she was bound by existing precedent. She picked the best standard available to her. Many and most of her colleagues on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

ANDREWS: She will also be asked about the President's demand for judicial empathy and her now famous comment that 'a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.' The question would be does this reflect an ethnic bias?

M. EDWARD WHELAN [PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER]: That is a deep and serious challenge to the very notion of the rule of law. So there's plenty in her record that, as I say, ought to cause real concern.

ANDREWS: Sotomayor should easily have the votes to be concerned [confirmed], and so Republicans are not only mindful of that, but they're also mindful of the fact that much of the nation's 15% Hispanic population views Sotomayor with great pride. So Republicans have promised questions to her that are challenging but also professional and respectful.


-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.