Sonia Sotomayor's historic trial by Senate fire about to begin
She'll face tough questioning, but even Republicans expect her to be confirmed.
On Monday, the curtain rises on one of the great moments in political theater: Senate confirmation hearings for a member of the Supreme Court of the United States. In this case the drama will be especially historic: Sonia Sotomayor is one of the few women ever nominated to join the highest court in the land, and she’s also the first Hispanic.Skip to next paragraph
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There’s a kabuki aspect to it.
Like nominees before her, Judge Sotomayor (who’s served on lower federal courts for the past 17 years) will avoid being pinned down on firecracker issues like abortion, affirmative action, and gun control. She’ll be pressed on her judicial philosophy and the hundreds of rulings she’s been part of over the years.
Senate Republicans will challenge President Obama’s first high court nominee -- one of the few ways the minority party can assert itself. Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn of Texas has been posting daily questions for Sotomayor on his web site. These are a sort of template for what can be expected in the formal committee room setting on Capitol Hill.
As part of their homework, senators (and reporters) have been poring over thousands of pages of documents, made available through the National Archives, relating to Sotomayor’s record.
Meanwhile, interest groups left, right, and center have been weighing in.
The National Rifle Association has expressed “very serious concerns” about Sotomayor’s nomination -- something that would be expected from the pro-gun group regarding just about anybody Obama nominated.
Perhaps surprisingly, women’s advocacy groups have generally been quiet.
"You don't want to do anything that would actually hurt her chances by making it seem like if we get this woman, she'll be sympathetic to women," Debbie Walsh, director of Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, told the Associated Press. "Then she'd be called a sexist, and that doesn't help."