Sonia Sotomayor confirmed in US Senate vote

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

A 68–31 vote by the United States Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court this afternoon.

Sotomayor, appointed to fill the seat vacated by Justice David Souter, is the first Latina woman, and third woman in history, to join the Supreme Court. The justice faced an easy confirmation in a senate controlled by the Democrats; all 31 votes against her confirmation came from Republicans. Two major controversies were raised during the confirmation hearings: the propriety of Sotomayor's comments while a circuit court judge in which she spoke of herself as a "wise Latina", better able to make fair judgments than a white male, raised objections from conservative Republicans over accusations of bias; while the overturning by the Supreme Court of Sotomayor's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano led others to question whether the justice was of a legal caliber sufficient to sit on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor nevertheless accumulated endorsements from both sides of the aisle, with nine Republicans, including South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, voting with the Democrats to accept Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee.

The retirement of Souter and his replacement with Sotomayor will not shift the ideological balance of the Supreme Court, with Sotomayor likely to join Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer as part of the court's informal liberal wing.