Senate Republicans Backed Sotomayor for Appeals, May Not for Supreme Court

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Republicans Backed Sotomayor for Appeals, May Not for Supreme Court

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 26
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Part of the political calculation for President Barack Obama appointing Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is the fact that the Senate approved her a decade ago for an appeals court position. However, several current Republican senators opposed her then and more may do so this time.

Sotomayor’s nomination to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by pro-abortion President Bill Clinton was confirmed by a 67-29 vote in October 1998.

Eleven current Senate Republicans voted against her confirmation — including pro-life Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Other senators to vote against her included Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts of Kansas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming; Charles Grassley of Iowa; Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma; Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona; and current Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

These Republican lawmakers are all pro-life advocates except Hutchison, who is seeking the GOP nod to become the Texas governor and could face pressure to vote against Sotomayor to earn Republican support in her home state.

At the time of her appeals court vote, eight Republican senators supported Sotomayor. Those include Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch of Utah, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine; Richard Lugar of Indiana.

However, it is unclear whether Hatch and Bennett will vote for Sotomayor a second time around.

Hatch called the Obama Supreme Court nominee "extremely liberal," and, in a recent Fox News interview, he condemned Sotomayor’s past statement that appeals courts are "where policy is made."

"She would have, I think, a more difficult time if she was nominated because of statements like that, and, of course, she has a whole raft of opinions that I think would have to be scrutinized very carefully," Hatch told Fox News.

Hatch told conservative radio host Scott Hennen that Sotomayor is "very liberal, no question about it." And in an interview with ABC’s "This Week" a few weeks ago the Utah senator said she was "on the far left of the spectrum."

In a statement released today, Hatch warned that the Senate must now decide whether Sotomayor is qualified for a promotion.

"Judges swear an oath to decide cases impartially, without regard to the identity of the parties before them," Hatch said. "I will focus on determining whether Judge Sotomayor is committed to deciding cases based only on the law as made by the people and their elected representatives, not on personal feelings or politics."

Bennett also released a statement saying he wanted to check her record but did not say anything more.

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