CAPITOL HILL (RPRN) 8/7/2009–The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. President Barack Obama welcomed the 68 to 31 vote, which came after three days of debate on Sotomayor’s judicial record and public statements.
Fifty-nine Senate Democrats supported confirmation of Sotomayor for the high court, joined by 9 of 40 Senate Republicans.
At the White House, President Obama said the vote confirmed that Sotomayor is fully equipped for the court and that she would uphold equal justice under the law.
“With this historic vote, the Senate has affirmed that Judge Sotomayor has the intellect, the temperament, the history, the integrity and the independence of mind to ably serve on our nation’s highest court,” he said.
In the hours before the vote, Democrats and Republicans voiced opposing views about cases Sotomayor ruled on in her 17 years as a federal judge as well as some of her writings and public statements.
While all agreed she was highly-qualified, Republicans renewed their assertions that she would bring a left-wing political bias to the high court, and introduced letters from anti-abortion, gun rights and other groups opposing her nomination.
Republicans focused, among other things, on their assertion that Sotomayor would carry out an activist agenda and allow her personal empathy for certain racial and ethnic groups to influence her decisions.
Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an empathy standard as Republicans assert President Barack Obama endorsed for the selection of judges would set a dangerous precedent.
“The president’s empathy standard is much more than a rhetorical flourish,” he said. “It is a dangerous judicial philosophy where judges would base their rulings on their social, personal [and] political views. It is an attempt to sell really an old discredited activist philosophy by marketing it under a new label.”
During her confirmation hearing, Sotomayor – the first Hispanic to be nominated for the Supreme Court – said she regretted public s