Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent several years hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Ricci Speaks. Finally.

| Thu Jul. 16, 2009 4:28 PM EDT

New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci has been the invisible man of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. For four straight days, members of Congress have endlessly rehashed, dissected and debated the case that bears his name. Republicans have lionized Ricci and used his lawsuit against New Haven, Connecticut to bash Sotomayor for everything from shoddy analysis and perfunctory opinion-writing to reverse racism.

So it was with great anticipation that the man himself arrived in the witness chair today. But in case it wasn’t obvious from his uniform, Ricci is a firefighter, not a legal expert. So in his testimony, Ricci largely stuck to what he knew. He opened with a lecture on how “technology and modern threats have changed our profession.” He detailed the dangers of his job and why lieutenants and captains need to understand the “dynamic fire environment.” His point, eventually, was that the test he took was designed to promote only those who’d mastered all this tricky stuff. By refusing to promote on the basis of the test results, the city of New Haven risked putting incompetents behind the hose.

“When your house is on fire or your life is in jeopardy, there are no do-overs,” he said with the delivery of someone who has given this speech before, possibly to third-graders on career day. (The soliloquy prompted Sen. Lindsey Graham to tell him later, “Mr. Ricci, I would want you to come to my house if it was on fire.”)

 

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Sen. Sessions: Crackhead?

| Thu Jul. 16, 2009 3:08 PM EDT

A lighter moment from today's Sotomayor hearing courtesy of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and our friends over at UpTake:

Sen. Whitehouse No Habla Espanol

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 2:15 PM EDT

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has done a good bit of babbling over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor this week. He's so proud of her that today, he confessed that she gives him "piel de gallina." That would be "goosebumps" for all you gringos out there.  The good senator was obviously trying to be nice by, you know, speaking her language. But throwing bad Spanish at the country's first Latina Supreme Court nominee is akin to questioning Justice Clarence Thomas in Ebonics. How much more patronizing can these guys be? Next we'll have Sen. Kyl demanding, "comprende Senora?" after one of his windy questions. It just shows why it might be a good idea to have a little more diversity in high places. A "wise Latina" might have prevented Whitehouse from making such an embarassing gaffe. Or at least she could help him with his accent.

Follow our live coverage of the Sotomayor hearings here.

 

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