Sotomayor Nomination Should Hit Senate Floor First Week of August

Posted July 25, 2009 at 12:12pm

With the Judiciary Committee expected to vote out the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor by a wide margin Tuesday, the Senate will begin a largely symbolic floor debate on her confirmation during the first week of August, Republican and Democratic aides said Friday.Although Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have not yet formally begun negotiations on the parameters of the floor debate, leadership aides in both parties said the debate will be wrapped up before the Senate breaks for the August recess.Several aides predicted a four-day floor debate — which has been standard for most high court nominations — is likely, and Republicans are not expected to filibuster the nomination.McConnell has not actively whipped his members on the final vote, and Republicans and Democrats both predicted Sotomayor could get as many as 70 votes for her confirmation.A number of Republicans have already endorsed Sotomayor, including Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.); Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine; Mel Martinez (Fla.); and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), also a Judiciary member. Graham has come under fire from conservatives for his support of the nominee.Judiciary Committee Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and John Cornyn (Texas) announced Friday that they will oppose the nomination, dealing a blow to Democratic hopes of having a strong bipartisan vote for President Barack Obama’s first high court pick. In a statement, Hatch said he had reached his decision “reluctantly.—Cornyn joins fellow GOP leaders McConnell, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) in opposing Sotomayor’s nomination. Kyl is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.The only major question remaining on the Judiciary Committee is how Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will end up voting.Democrats had hoped that Cornyn and Hatch, one of the GOP’s most respected voices on judicial matters, would support Sotomayor and, in so doing, help convince other Republicans to vote “yes.— Cornyn is the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman and represents a state with a large Latino population. In a floor speech Friday, Cornyn leveled harsh criticism against Sotomayor, arguing that she was evasive during her confirmation hearings and did not assuage his concerns over her judicial philosophy. “I will vote against confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,— Cornyn said. “I will vote with the certain knowledge that she will be confirmed despite my vote. I wish her well. I congratulate her on her historic achievement. I know she will be an inspiration to young people — within the Hispanic community and beyond.—