Specter and Lugar to back Sotomayor

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who began the year as the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he will vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

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“Judge Sonia Sotomayor brought to the Judiciary Committee hearings an outstanding record academically, as a prosecutor and as a commercial lawyer plus 17 distinguished years as a federal judge,” Specter, now a Democrat, said in a statement. “At the hearings she displayed intellect, restraint and judicial demeanor. As the third woman and the first Hispanic, she will add needed diversity to the Supreme Court.”

Specter showed some frustration with Sotomayor’s cautious answers during confirmation hearings but praised her record on the bench.

“I think your record is exemplary, Judge Sotomayor,” said Specter. “I’m not commenting about your answers, but your record is exemplary.”

Specter’s quick show of support is likely to be followed by a rush of endorsements from other senators in coming days.

Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.) became the first Republican to back Sotomayor when he issued a statement Friday morning praising her “judicial temperament during her week-long nomination hearing.”