With scant support for Sotomayor, did the GOP hurt itself?
Republicans need to attract more Hispanic voters. But just nine in the Senate approved the first Hispanic justice’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Senate wrote a new page of US history on Thursday with the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as the first American of Hispanic heritage to sit on the Supreme Court. She also becomes only the third woman to serve as a justice.Skip to next paragraph
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The vote was 68 to 31. In addition to all 59 Senate Democrats, nine Republicans crossed the aisle and voted to support the nomination.
“I am filled with pride in this achievement,” President Obama said shortly after the vote. “This is a wonderful day for Judge Sotomayor and her family, but I also think it is a wonderful day for America.”
Mr. Obama praised the confirmation vote as “breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.”
Senate Democrats also noted the historic and inspiring nature of the vote.
“This is the American dream, the dream that we all speak about when we campaign -- but what we’ve done now has made it real,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, (D) of Vermont, after the vote. Sotomayor leaves her job as a judge on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to become the nation’s 111th justice, replacing retiring Justice David Souter.
Several senators have described Sotomayor’s life as a classic American success story with similarities to Obama’s own experience. Raised by a single mother in a Bronx housing project, Sotomayor excelled at Princeton and at Yale Law School, worked as a prosecutor, corporate lawyer, and judge, and now rises to a position at the pinnacle of the American judiciary.
Her transition will be quick. The Supreme Court is set to hear a major challenge to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law on September 9. In addition, the court’s next term is scheduled to begin in early October.
With a 60-member filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate, Sotomayor’s confirmation appeared secure from the start. The only real suspense was how many Republicans would support her nomination.