LTE – Cochran should change his vote on Sotomayor

Dear Senator Cochran,

I became aware of your decision to oppose the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, and would like to argue the benefits of reversing that decision. Because it is clear that Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed as a United States Supreme Court Justice due to the level of support by the Democratic Senators (and a few declared Republicans such as Lindsey Graham), your vote becomes one of symbolic opposition. The message this symbolism represents is to me unclear based on the arguments used in her confirmation hearings and the points you made in your public statement.

As a Senator from this state, you cannot separate yourself from the history of the seat you occupy. Mississippi has a narrative that places her on the wrong side of American race relations. Historically, senators from this state have opposed the Voting Rights Act of, the integration of public schools, interracial marriage, and the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday, while promoting overt White Supremacy (through the support of Jim Crow Laws and the White Citizen’s Council), and your own predecessor, Senator Eastland, tried to block the vote to confirm Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Senator James K. Vardaman is hardly worth the title Senator based on his openly hostile and racist remarks, while Senator Theodore G. Bilbo was an open member of the KKK and stated that African Americans should not have the right to vote. Coupled with this are the secessionists and promoters of slavery who tried openly to destroy the United States of America. These are the esteemed senators of the State of Mississippi, people we as a state should be ashamed of and have no business associating with.

But you, Senator Cochran, are a good man who has helped this state in many ways. Your tenure as a senator is highlighted by being both the chair and the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations committee, a venue where your respect gives you privilege to direct funds toward causes in education, infrastructure, and social justice statewide. The State of Mississippi is lucky to have a Senator as respectable as you, and that is why it is imperative that you vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor. Although she will be confirmed by the full Senate, the path of least resistance for a Senator from Mississippi would be to vote against the confirmation — no questions would be asked, the vote would be assumed. But to vote in favor of confirmation, you would be making a statement not only for your record but for the State of Mississippi, proclaiming that we understand and value a Supreme Court balanced by justices from all walks of life, as long as the candidate is qualified.

Charlie Buckley
Tupelo, Mississippi
The Clarion-Ledger
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