Judiciary Committee backs Sotomayor nomination, 13-6

Senate Judiciary Committee members on Tuesday approved the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, 13-6.

Every panel Republican, except for Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (S.C.), voted no.

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Based on a review by The Hill of media statements, interviews and Tuesday’s committee votes, 15 of the 40 Senate Republicans are still undecided on the Sotomayor nomination.

GOP senators point to a variety of factors to explain their indecision — the distraction of health reform, Sotomayor’s 17-year judicial record and a desire to wait until after the committee vote.

Mindful of the time crunch, ranking Judiciary Committee member Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMigrants told they’ll be reunited with children if they sign voluntary deportation order: report Christie: Trump 'enormously ill-served' by DOJ on 'zero tolerance' policy 'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country MORE (Ala.) has offered his GOP colleagues access to hearing transcripts and analyses.

But many Republicans said they just haven’t gotten around to making up their minds.

“I haven’t made any decision,” said 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Trump mocks McCain at Nevada rally Don’t disrespect McCain by torpedoing his clean National Defense Authorization Act MORE (Ariz.).

Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) said the nomination will be considered before the Senate recesses next Friday.

Graham said he understands Republican criticism of Sotomayor but believes she is within the mainstream.

“I base my vote on qualifications, and I came away from the hearing feeling she was well-qualified,” Graham said. “I would not have chosen her, but I understand why President Obama did.”

Sotomayor was not present Tuesday — she went through four days of questioning two weeks ago — and she was opposed by the other six Republicans on the panel: Sessions, John CornynJohn CornynSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border MORE (Texas), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnMr. President, let markets help save Medicare Pension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism MORE (Okla.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Senate Dems call for Judiciary hearing on Trump's 'zero tolerance' Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt MORE (Iowa) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRaces to watch in Tuesday’s primaries Senate panel to hold hearing next week for Trump IRS nominee On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (Utah).

The Republicans repeated their party’s oft-stated criticism that Sotomayor has a demonstrated activist bent that will continue if she reaches the high court. The GOP senators also repeatedly expressed frustration with the nominee’s “evasions” during her four days of hearings.

“Her speeches and articles described a troubling approach to judging that her hearing testimony did not resolve,” said Hatch, a former committee chairman. “In the end, Judge Sotomayor’s record regarding her approach to judging simply left too many unresolved controversies and too many conflicts with fundamental principles about the judiciary.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Senators 'deeply troubled' military lawyers being used for immigration cases Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE (D-Vt.) took the lead in defending Sotomayor, saying, “In her 17 years on the bench there is not one example, let alone a pattern, of her ruling based on bias or prejudice or sympathy.”

As a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter, whose rulings were widely viewed as left-leaning, Sotomayor is not expected to significantly alter the court’s philosophical balance.

One surprising bit of criticism on Tuesday came from Wisconsin’s two Democratic senators, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, who condemned the lack of forthrightness in recent Supreme Court nomination hearings. Since the watershed hearings of Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991, nominees are now coached to such an extent by presidential administrations that candor has suffered, Kohl and Feingold asserted.

“These hearings have become little more than theater, where senators try to ask clever questions and nominees try to come up with cleverer ways to respond without answering,” Feingold said.

 

GOP stances on Sotomayor

Republicans who say they will vote yes (5)

Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Skyrocketing insulin prices provoke new outrage MORE (Maine)
Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Richard Lugar (Ind.)
Mel Martinez (Fla.)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)

Republicans who say they will vote no (20)

Bob Bennett (Utah)
Sam Brownback (Kan.)
Jim Bunning (Ky.)
Tom Coburn (Okla.)
Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTodd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm US farming cannot afford to continue to fall behind Mississippi Democrat drops Senate bid MORE (Miss.)
John Cornyn (Texas)
Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border All the times Horowitz contradicted Wray — but nobody seemed to notice Senate Dems want watchdog to probe if SEC official tried to pressure bank on gun policies MORE (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Obstacles to Trump's 'Space Force' could keep proposal grounded for now The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? MORE (Okla.)
Jon Kyl (Ariz.)
Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule Mulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays MORE (Ky.)
Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Lawmakers push for role in North Korea talks as Iran scars linger Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (Idaho)
Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsModerates need to hold firm against radical right on Farm Bill GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (Ky.)
Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Richard Shelby (Ala.)
John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRepublicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (S.D.)
David VitterDavid Bruce VitterSenate panel advances Trump nominee who wouldn't say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly Planned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge MORE (La.)
Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council Senators question Afghanistan commander nominee on turning around 17-year war MORE (Miss.)

Undecided/Have not publicly announced (15)

Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Supreme Court allows states to collect sales taxes from online retailers | Judge finds consumer bureau structure unconstitutional | Banks clear Fed stress tests Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families MORE (Tenn.)
John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Overnight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program Pruitt to testify before Senate panel in August MORE (Wyo.)
Kit Bond (Mo.)*
Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senate Intel requests more testimony from Comey, McCabe MORE (N.C.)
Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (Ga.)
Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCorker: 'I think there's a jailbreak brewing' in opposition to Trump tariffs GOP scrambles to regain fiscal credibility with House budget On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (Tenn.)
Jim DeMint (S.C.)
John Ensign (Nev.)
Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziHouse panel to mark up 2019 budget Overnight Defense: Top general defends Afghan war progress | VA shuffles leadership | Pacific Command gets new leader, name | Pentagon sued over HIV policy Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (Wyo.)
Judd Gregg (N.H.)
Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens MORE (Ga.)
Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (Neb.)
John McCain (Ariz.)
Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHeitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Icebreaking ships are not America’s top priority in the Arctic 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families MORE (Alaska)
George Voinovich (Ohio)


* Bond says he will “probably” vote yes

This article was updated on July 29 at 12:35 p.m.