WASHINGTON — President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, moved closer to taking her seat on Tuesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved her nomination and sent it on to the full Senate.
South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham is going to feel awfully lonely on the Republican side of the Judiciary Committee dais during Tuesday’s Sonia Sotomayor confirmation vote.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — all of whom were undecided as of last week — will all vote no in committee. It’s not clear yet if Graham will be the only Republican “yes” vote on the panel.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that he would support the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice, becoming the fifth Republican to do so. Mr. Graham endorsed Judge Sotomayor just minutes after Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said he would vote against her. Senators Graham and Kyl are members of the Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to vote on her nomination Tuesday. The Republicans who earlier endorsed Judge Sotomayor are Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Mel Martinez of Florida and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana.
In the first day of hearings on the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the retirement of Justice David Souter, members and the nominee presented opening statements. Members focused on Judge Sotomayer's experience as a trial lawyer and federal judge, as well as her judicial temperament and philosophy. They also outlined several areas that would be a focus of questioning including her statements about race and ethnicity. In her testimony, Judge Sotomayor focused on her career and touched briefly on several cases she had heard as a judge.
One of the enduring myths about Supreme Court justices is that they often turn out to "surprise" the presidents who appoint them. Sure-thing conservatives, it is said, turn out to be liberals, and vice versa. In fact, the evidence is almost entirely the opposite: that with justices, as in life, what you see is what you get. The question, then, is this: What do you see when you look at Sonia Sotomayor, who begins her confirmation hearings as a strong favorite for confirmation?
She is, above all, a veteran judge who has 18 years on the federal bench: six as a trial judge (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) and the rest on the court of appeals (appointed by President Clinton). The question of competence is closed. Sotomayor can do the job. It's no surprise that she received a unanimous rating of well-qualified from the American Bar Association screening committee. But what would she stand for as a Supreme Court justice? She is, it seems, a liberal, but a liberal in the cautious and careful mode of her likely future colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Her leanings are clearest in the case of affirmative action. As a political and constitutional matter, she believes government can take steps to assure a diverse work force or student body.
Sonia Sotomayor still speaks with her elderly mom, who’s retired in Florida, “every day.”
She’s a “doting” aunt to three of her brother’s children and an “attentive godmother to five more.”
And did you know she was a “fearless and effective prosecutor” and anti-child-pornography crusader widely credited “with saving baseball”?
These biographical gems come from the official, 200-plus-page White House playbook distributed to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats tasked with defending President Barack Obama’s SCOTUS nominee during this week’s confirmation hearings.
What emerges from the document is a streamlined, no-drama strategy modeled on the flawless performance of Chief Justice John Roberts back in 2005. Roberts bedeviled Democrats by deflecting questions about his judicial philosophy with the law school equivalent of Greenspan-speak, the art of saying virtually nothing in the most expansive language possible.
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 1:18 pm | Kristina Moore
In a letter received today by the Senate Judiciary Committee, more than 1000 academics expressed their support for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
A number of signatories with diverse specialties and political leanings discussed via conference call Judge Sotomayor’s qualifications and strongly rebuked any characterization of her as a liberal ideologue. The professors believed Judge Sotomayor to be a moderate, pragmatic, and incrementalist jurist across all areas of law.
Judge Sotomayor’s criminal law record has been recently highlighted by the White House and the Democratic majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which released a report yesterday on 800 criminal cases) as an example of how she is a “consensus judge.” Professors echoed this sentiment, calling her decisions workmanlike and centrist. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor, said that Judge Sotomayor has not in any way expanded, enhanced, or departed from the precedent established by the Supreme Court on law enforcement issues. Robert Weisberg, a Stanford Law School professor, emphasized that in habeas corpus cases, Judge Sotomayor has been a “model of meticulousness” and strictly followed Congress’s statute.
Ever since President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the Supreme Court, Jewish leaders have been speculating about how the appointment of this Bronx-raised Hispanic woman will affect the relationship between the Jewish and Hispanic communities.
In recent years, Latino and Jewish communities around the county have made strides to connect with and learn from each other, in part due to their shared immigrant histories. Sotomayor herself has been on two trips to Israel — in 1986 and 1996 — through the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange. That program has brought over 4,500 American leaders and politicians to Israel since 1982, to partake in seminars involving politics, security and health care, according to Ann Schaffer, director of AJC’s Belfer Center for American Pluralism.
By her second trip, Sotomayor was already a federal judge and she was eager to return to the country she found so beautiful.