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GOP senators win bid to delay Sotomayor vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now scheduled to vote on the Supreme Court nominee on July 28. She is expected to win approval both there and in the full Senate.

By Staff writer / July 21, 2009

When the Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (left), the ranking Republican on panel, requested that the vote on the Sotomayor nomination be put off for a week. Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (right) said the vote would be rescheduled for Tuesday, July 28.

Gerald Herbert/AP

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A Senate committee vote on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the US Supreme Court has been delayed for a week under a routine legislative maneuver by Republican senators.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee met briefly on Tuesday to vote on the Sotomayor nomination. But Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the panel, requested that the vote be put off for a week to permit senators more time to consider the nomination.

“You moved this fast,” Senator Sessions said, referring to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy. “Some say you didn’t go fast enough; some of us said you went too fast.” The Alabama senator said the Republicans were trying to “fulfill our responsibility [to provide advice and consent] without any unnecessary delay.”

Senator Leahy of Vermont acknowledged that Sessions had the right to put the vote off for a week. He said the committee vote would be rescheduled for Tuesday, July 28.

Judge Sotomayor is expected to win approval of a majority of the Judiciary Committee, which includes 12 Democrats and seven Republicans. She is also expected to win easy confirmation in the full Senate, where the Democrats hold 60 seats. That vote is likely in early August.

“We all know that Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed,” Leahy said. But, he added, the confirmation should take place quickly to allow her to prepare for a special Supreme Court hearing on Sept. 9, which involves a challenge to a portion of US campaign-finance law.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in that case last spring and was set to decide it in June. Instead, the high court ordered the case to be re-argued in September, setting the stage for a potential landmark ruling.

“She will have very, very few weeks after being confirmed to move to Washington, to set up her law clerks, set up her office, and prepare for a major case on the McCain-Feingold bill,” Leahy said. “Delay will not help either her or the Supreme Court.”