In his debut as a Senate inquisitor, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor whether there was a “fundamental, overriding First Amendment right for Americans to have open access to the Internet.” She gave a very non-specific answer, but, as these hearings are progressing, they are saying more about the senators than the person under the hotseat. That it was one of the first questions he asked should endear Franken to the netroots community — and it foreshadows something that is bound to be on his agenda.
At one point, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy’s microphone didn’t work. Franken offered to give up his seat, where he had a working mike. When Leahy took him up on the offer, Franken headed over to Leahy’s seat and, prepared to sit down, said, “I shouldn’t do this.” That’s when Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) quipped, “That’s the quickest rise of any senator in history.” Franken found another spot to sit.
In sign of just how heated these hearings have become, Sessions’ Wikipedia entry identifies him as “the most racist member of the U.S. Senate.” Wonder whether he’d agree today about a fundamental right for access to the ‘Net.
Update: Daphne Eviatar of the Washington Indpendent gave Franken high marks for his round of questioning. She wrote, “For a comedian-turned-politician with no formal legal training, the newest senator and Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor some of the most complex but elucidating questions about Supreme Court cases we’ve heard yet.”