Obama Honors Sotomayor’s Confirmation to High Court

Posted August 12, 2009 at 10:23am

President Barack Obama on Wednesday hosted an East Room reception for newly installed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, praising her achievement and thanking Members for their work getting her confirmed.

Obama offered a tip of the hat to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for shepherding her confirmation through the Senate before the August recess — Obama’s request after he nominated the then-New York appeals court judge in May. He also thanked New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and singled out — to raucous applause — Hispanic lawmakers Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) for their work on Sotomayor’s behalf. Velázquez is chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Obama on Wednesday commended “Republicans and Democrats— who he said “tore down yet one more barrier— in confirming the first Latina to the Supreme Court, calling it “an extraordinary moment for our nation.—

The Senate confirmed Sotomayor last week on a 68-31 vote, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats present to vote in favor of her.

Many speculated the refusal of most GOP senators to vote for Sotomayor was a signal to Obama to go no further to the left in his next choice for the high court. Republicans used the debate over Sotomayor to make a broader case for the direction of the judiciary and their opposition to “activist— judges.

In the East Room, Sotomayor said she felt extraordinarily joyful and honored, thanking family members, supporters, the president and the Judiciary Committee, which she said had conducted a “respectful— hearing.

“I thank President Obama and the United States Senate for the tremendous honor and privilege they have granted me,— she said.