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The 10 Dumbest Things Republicans Have Said About the Sotomayor Hearings

A list of the most ridiculous questions, jabs and rants by GOP lawmakers and other conservatives.

At her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor had to keep a straight face while Republicans heaped shame upon their party with a flood of ridiculous questions, unjustified jabs and pointless rants.

From sexist attacks about Sotomayor's "temperament" to a rigorous interrogation about the definition of nunchucks, GOPers came up with a multitude of embarrassing ways to try to hinder the Supreme Court nominee's confirmation.

The craziness and incompetence on display at the hearings has been more than matched by the absurd smears leveled at Sotomayor in the conservative media. The shining lights of conservatism -- Pat Buchanan, G. Gordan Liddy and Rush Limbaugh -- have outdone themselves with uninformed, offensive rants about the nominee.

AlterNet has compiled the 10 dumbest, most ridiculous statements about Sotomayor to issue from the lips of GOP lawmakers and other conservatives in the past few weeks.

1. Early Tuesday morning, Jeff Sessions seemed surprised that Sotomayor's legal decisions sometimes diverge from those of other judges of Puerto Rican descent. During a series of questions about Ricci v. DeStefano, Sessions scolded:

You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact, your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge [Jose] Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could've changed that case.

An interesting tack, especially considering that since Sotomayor's nomination, Republicans have desperately clutched at her "wise Latina" comments in order to unconvincingly argue that Sotomayor would let her personal experience dictate her judicial decision making -- thereby continuing the grievous oppression of white men.

Sessions' barely suppressed racism comes into even sharper focus when we consider Steve Benen's point: "Imagine how absurd it would have been if, during [Samuel] Alito's confirmation hearings, [Wisconsin Sen.] Russ Feingold pressed him on why he didn't vote in a certain case with another Italian American judge."

2. A slightly more subtle (but hardly less stupid) question came from Arizona Republican Jon Kyl, who, when he wasn't reveling in the sound of his own voice, asked whether Sotomayor has "always been able to find a legal basis for every decision that (she's) rendered as a judge."

"This is not a trick question," Kyl assured her (as though the poor lady might be intimidated by the sheer force of his intellect). "I can't imagine that the answer would be otherwise than, yes, you've always found some legal basis for ruling one way or the other, some precedent, some reading of a statute, the Constitution or whatever it might be."

But, just to make sure: "You haven't ever had to throw up your arms and said, 'I can't find any legal basis for this opinion, so I'm going to base it on some other factor'? "

Yes, Sen. Kyl, when in doubt, she consults the zodiac. ("Well, the moon is in Cancer, so...") Seriously, people. She's a judge, not an astrologist.

3. After solemnly reminding Sotomayor that the New Haven, Conn., firefighters case is just one of many "cases where people are discriminated against," Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch took the opportunity to indulge in a little guilt by association -- while denying he was indulging in guilt by association.

"Let me just make one last point here," Hatch said. "You have nothing to do with this, I know. But there's a rumor that People for the American Way has -- that this organization has been smearing Frank Ricci, who is only one of 20 plaintiffs in this case, because he may be willing to be a witness ... in these proceedings.

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