GOP-Approved Sotomayor Opponent Foresees Future Of Arab Internment Camps

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The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from all sides next week about Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, and, as we’ve already noted, the invitation list includes the Connecticut firefighters who’ve become a cause célèbre for conservative activists.

But the GOP has also called upon Peter Kirsanow–a Bush appointee who heads the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and testified on behalf of Samuel Alito four years ago–to question Sotomayor’s fitness.

Who is Kirsanow, you ask? According to a 2002 Knight-Ridder report, he’s this guy: “A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said Friday that he could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for Arab Americans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country.”

If there’s a future terrorist attack in America “and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights,” commission member Peter Kirsanow said.

The reason, he said, is that “the public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives.”

Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President Bush, said that he personally doesn’t support internment camps and the government would never envision setting them up. He said he was merely saying public opinion would so strongly favor the idea that it would be difficult to prevent. There would be a “groundswell of opinion” for such detentions, he said.

Speaking before the Heritage Foundation earlier that year, Kirsanow said affirmative action had “metastasized into a racial spoils system consisting of preferences, quotas, and set-asides.” Strong words for the commissioner of an organization with the below mission statement.

To investigate complaints alleging that citizens are being deprived of their right to vote by reason of their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or by reason of fraudulent practices.

To study and collect information relating to discrimination or a denial of equal protection of the laws under the Constitution because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice.

To appraise federal laws and policies with respect to discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice.

To serve as a national clearinghouse for information in respect to discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin.

To submit reports, findings, and recommendations to the President and Congress.

To issue public service announcements to discourage discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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