Senate Filibuster Appears Unlikely on Sotomayor, Opponents Split on Tactic

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 27, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Filibuster Appears Unlikely on Sotomayor, Opponents Split on Tactic

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 27
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — One day after President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to become the next Supreme Court justice, Senate Republicans appear unlikely to use a filibuster to oppose her. Meanwhile, opponents are split on whether to use the procedural tactic against her.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a pro-life Alabama lawmaker, said for the first time today he doesn’t see the GOP using a filibuster.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean a large number of Senate Republicans won’t vote against her nomination.

"The nominee has serious problems," Sessions said on CNN.

"But I would think that we would all have a good hearing, take our time and do it right," Sessions added. "And then the senators cast their vote up or down based on whether or not they think this is the kind of judge that should be on the court. I don’t sense a filibuster in the works."

Sessions went as far as saying that it was still possible he could support Sotomayor even though pro-life groups are concerned that she is a judicial activist who will support Roe v. Wade on the high court.

Meanwhile, pro-life advocates appear split on whether the tactic should be used.

In a survey of comments has received from pro-life advocates, few leading organizations are calling for a filibuster.

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition is a filibuster proponent.

“The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one,” he said. “If they don’t, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away."

However, Wendy Long, of the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative political group that opposes Sotomayor’s nomination on judicial activist grounds, is urging the Senate to have a simple up or down vote but hopes lawmakers will oppose the confirmation.

“We’ve always said a filibuster is not appropriate for judicial nominees,” she told the web site Politico. “A filibuster is a legislative tool designed to extract compromises. A judicial nominee is a person. You can’t take the arm or leg of a nominee."

“I think everybody should stand up, after a hearing, and vote yes or no. I know there is a respectful disagreement about that in some corners,” she added.

Political calculations will also be in the works and leading lawmakers are already saying that it will be tough to call for a filibuster when they railed against abortion advocates for threatening them against President Bush’s nominees.

They are also concerned about the potential loss of public face with women voters and Hispanics, who fell behind Obama in last year’s presidential election, if they come out hard against Sotomayor.

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