How well did Judge Sonia Sotomayor do at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
Well enough to get Senate Republicans to throw in the towel.
The committee’s edgiest critic of President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nomination, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, said after Judge Sotomayor finished her testimony Thursday that he would oppose any attempt to block her confirmation with a filibuster.
Sessions assured the judge that she would get a Senate vote and said he would “look forward to you getting that vote” before the Senate takes summer recess, which is set to begin August 7.
That doesn’t mean that Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, will vote to make Judge Sotomayor an associate justice on the nation’s highest court.
But other Republicans will.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy, who has managed the confirmation process with his usual informality and dry humor, said as much Thursday. Leahy made it clear that his heavy lifting was done, as was Judge Sotomayor’s. What could have been an ugly, contentious and ridiculously ideological hearing that rubbed raw the open sores of a country that continues to struggle with questions of race, ethnicity and gender was, for the most part, calm and respectful – perhaps even a bit dull, as Judge Sotomayor refused to bite when her conservative critics attempted to bait her.
After the judge finished four days during which she was supposed to provide testimony but that mostly saw her listening to speeches from the senators who will decide whether she gets a lifetime seat on the high-court bench, Leahy said, “I think it is pretty clear that she will be confirmed, that she will be the ninth member of the U.S. Supreme Court and that (her nomination will be approved) with Democratic and Republican votes.”
The news here is the firm assertion from a committee chairman who has been judging Supreme Court nominations for 35 years that: “There will be Republican votes for her.”
The chairman knows his committee.
He knows the Senate.
And he is right where this nomination “fight” is headed.
The right-wing campaign to demonize Judge Sotomayor – as a “wise Latina,” among other things – appears to have failed to unite the “party of no” in saying “no” to Obama’s high-court pick.