Sotomayor Submits Questionnaire; Vetting Formally Begins

Posted June 4, 2009 at 3:18pm

Updated: 4:35 p.m.Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor took another step closer to becoming the first Latina Supreme Court justice Thursday when the White House formally submitted her responses to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.The questionnaire, put together by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is Sotomayor’s first detailed response to Senators’ questions. The document will also provide partisans on both sides fodder to support or oppose her nomination.Leahy has said he would wait until after Sotomayor submitted her answers before setting a date for her confirmation hearings. He said earlier this week that those hearings would not begin until July. In a statement upon receiving the questionnaire, Leahy said Sotomayor “has advanced the confirmation process by promptly complying with this Senate requirement, and now the Senate should promptly schedule hearings to fairly consider her nomination to our highest court. The unfair attacks that have been leveled at her from outside the Senate are all the more reason to give her the chance to respond.—Following what he called a “good meeting— with Sotomayor on Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said those Judiciary hearings are likely to occur within the first two weeks of next month. Cornyn, who is a Judiciary member, also sought to distance himself from comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and some other Republicans who have suggested that opposition to Sotomayor should be expected given how President Barack Obama as a Senator treated former President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.Cornyn said that while the confirmation process has become increasingly bitter, he does not agree that Republicans should use the process to hit back at Democrats.“I won’t say there isn’t some resentment among Republicans over how Republican nominees have been treated in the past,— Cornyn said. But he said he told Sotomayor that he hoped her confirmation would mark a change in how the Senate handles these types of nominations. “It’s my hope that this would start a new trend in judicial nominations,— Cornyn said.