Lott denies GOP held up '98 vote on Sotomayor out of SCOTUS fears

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) on Tuesday cast doubt on claims that GOP senators held up Sonia Sotomayor's July 1998 vote for a circuit judgeship out of opposition to her potential nomination to the Supreme Court, but said he could not recall specifics.

Lott, who said he was "just passing through" the Senate, said he was unfairly accused of delaying Sotomayor's vote for political reasons, although he acknowledged he was "probably" directly involved in the situation.

Sotomayor's 1998 vote was blocked for seven months because of an anonymous hold, and The New York Times reported at the time that Republicans were trying to send a message to then-President Bill Clinton that she should not be put on a fast track for the high court.

She was eventually approved for her circuit judgeship on a 67-28 vote.

"They said I held her up, and the argument was that we were concerned they would try to move her quickly through to the Supreme Court, and we delayed her for months because of that," Lott said. "I don't remember that. It may have been, but it doesn't sound likely. I was probably holding her up at the request of somebody else, but I don't remember the circumstances."

When asked if he would support her candidacy if he were still in the Senate, Lott recalled that he opposed her for the circuit judgeship in 1998.

"But I don't know. It depends on her record," he said. "It depends on the body of her record since then, and how she handles herself."

-J. Taylor Rushing

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