Editor's Note: With the Senate confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor commencing today, Monday’s American Morning audience voiced diverse opinion about Sotomayor’s heritage and its impact on the court.
How do you feel about a Latina woman being considered for the highest court in the U.S.? Do you feel her heritage helps or hurts her chances of nomination? How do you think her background will affect her decisions on the court: will she defer to minorities or will she treat everyone equally under the law? Comment here or follow the story.
By Anderson Cooper
Interviewing the president is always a difficult prospect. There are so many questions you want to ask, but you only have a limited amount of time.
We had been told we might get about 15 to 20 minutes sitting down with the president and then perhaps 10 minutes walking around Cape Coast Castle – a whitewashed fort through which enslaved Africans were sent to the New World.
We arrived in Ghana last week, one day before the president arrived with his family. We spent the day shooting a story about African Americans who visit Ghana to retrace their roots, and we also spent an hour or so walking through the Castle with members of the president’s advance team.
It is a remarkable thing to see how much effort and organization goes into the president’s movements. The Castle and the nearby hotel were full of secret service, embassy personnel, White House advance personnel, military backup and I’m sure more from other agencies as well.
Everything is timed to the minute: When the president will arrive, where he will go, etc. I read something on Drudgereport that said the crowds were not enthusiastic for the president’s trip. I’m not sure where that impression came from.
Watch a clip of the interview here and see the full thing tonight at 10 p.m. ET on CNN's "AC360."
After weeks of meeting senators and preparing for tough questions, Sonia Sotomayor today begins the formal hearings on her nomination to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President George W. Bush, knows what it's like to shepherd a judicial nominee through the Senate. He played a key role on behalf of the Bush administration for the confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. He spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday.
Kiran Chetry: You were there for the last two times a nominee was getting ready to sit in the hot seat – Justices Roberts and Alito. What goes on in the days and hours before these hearings get set to begin for the nominees?
Ed Gillespie: Well you sift through the information you glean from the visits, the one-on-one visits that the nominee had with the senators. You try to determine what are likely questions to come up in the hearing. And the nominee in this case, Judge Sotomayor, obviously, will have some pretty firm views in response to those questions. And you just help in terms of shaping body language and the contours of the response and help give the nominee some guidance as to what to expect from the committee process. You know, judges aren't accustomed to being judged. And that's the position that Judge Sotomayor will be in for the next couple of days.
Chetry: Many say one issue for Sotomayor that she's sure to be questioned about are those comments she made at UC Berkeley back in 2001 where she said I hope a "wise Latina woman with the richness her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Senator Mitch McConnell said it's a “troubling philosophy for any judge – let alone one nominated to the highest court – to convert ‘empathy’ into favoritism for particular groups.” That's just a sampling of what she might get from some of the GOP senators. How does she best handle questions about that comment?
Gillespie: I think she has to make clear that any personal perspectives that she has articulated in the past in speeches haven't translated into rulings. I don't know that that’s the case. I think that's one of the things that would be weighed in the course of these hearings. She also said that your gender, your ethnicity – that you bring to bear what facts you choose to see. And I think people ask why would a judge choose to see some facts and not others? She'll be given the opportunity to respond to those questions. Those responses are important. This is a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. You want people going before the Supreme Court regardless of their race or gender or ethnicity to have confidence that the rulings that will come and be issued and promulgated won't be based on that race, that gender, that ethnicity. And so these are important questions and I'm glad she'll have the opportunity in public to provide an answer.
Senators want to learn everything about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearing. Her brother Juan remembers learning very early – his sister loves the law.
To explain, he walked us down memory lane in the Bronx where they grew up in a public housing project.
In the sixties, when Juan and his sister Sonia were growing up, she wasn't interested in watching “The Munsters” or “Bewitched.”
“My sister forced me to watch ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘Judd for the Defense.’…She knew she was going to be a lawyer,” says Dr. Juan Sotomayor.
They were big dreams for the inner-city girl whose parents were immigrants from Puerto Rico. The children lost their father when Sonia was nine. Their mother, who eventually became a nurse, was a strong believer in education.
By Caitlin Hagan
CNN Medical Associate Producer
OK America, I confess: Sometimes I can be a little bit of a potty mouth. (Mom, maybe this is not a great blog for you to read.) Yes, I know those dirty little words are unbecoming to some and I really should watch my language (and I really do try!) but sometimes, when I’m walking through my condo and I stub my baby pinky toe on a table leg and the pain takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes and makes me freeze with my foot mid-air in ridiculous pain….well, I can’t be held accountable for anything four-lettered I may say. (D**n it!)
Thankfully, Dr. Richard Stephens and his team at Keele University in the United Kingdom just published a study that says swearing actually has a pain-lessening effect. (See Mom? It’s healthy!) When we swear, we increase our threshold for pain, meaning we can bear it longer and don’t feel it as much. Stephens is not sure why this happens, only that for some reason, “swearing appears to increase our pain tolerance.”
What do you think? Is swearing helpful or distasteful?