By J. Taylor Rushing - 07/28/09 07:27 PM EDT
Senate Judiciary Committee members on Tuesday approved the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, 13-6.
Every panel Republican, except for Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamHigh anxiety for GOP NYC mayor: Trump sounds like ‘a third-world dictator’ Five takeaways from final debate MORE (S.C.), voted no.
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 SessionsJeff SessionsMcCain: Accepting election results is 'American way' GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far 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 McCainHigh anxiety for GOP Trump: 'Very disappointed' GOP senator dropped support GOP senator: I'd consider Clinton Supreme Court pick MORE (Ariz.).
Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Latinos build a wall between Trump and White House in new ad The true (and incredible) story of Hill staffers on the industry payroll 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 CornynGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules MORE (Texas), Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (Okla.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBen Stein revives ‘Ferris Bueller’ role for Grassley ad GOP senator: I'd consider Clinton Supreme Court pick Senior Verizon exec believes hack will affect Yahoo deal MORE (Iowa) and Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP lawmakers ask IRS to explain M wasted on unusable email system GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Schumer says Pacific trade pact may have enough votes to pass the Senate 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 LeahyGretchen Carlson to testify before Congress Senior Verizon exec believes hack will affect Yahoo deal Rigged election? Even if so, Trump needs to say he'll accept results 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 Collins5 takeaways from the Indiana Senate debate GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Juan Williams: Women will doom Trump 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 CochranThad CochranGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Momentum builds for Clyburn poverty plan 'Hardball' Pentagon memo creates firestorm MORE (Miss.)
John Cornyn (Texas)
Mike CrapoMike CrapoGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules Donald Trump: Make America Grope Again MORE (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
James InhofeJames InhofeGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election A dozen senators call for crackdown on Chinese steel Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (Okla.)
Jon Kyl (Ariz.)
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (Ky.)
Jim RischJim RischGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election GOP to Obama: Sanction Chinese entities to get to North Korea Research: Infrastructure systems easy to hack, a little slow to patch MORE (Idaho)
Pat RobertsPat RobertsGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules GOP leaders advise members to proceed with caution on Trump MORE (Ky.)
Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Richard Shelby (Ala.)
John ThuneJohn ThuneGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Republicans question FCC watchdog's 'independence' The Trail 2016: Sinister plot MORE (S.D.)
David VitterDavid VitterGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race Black voters remain key ingredient Louisiana political gumbo MORE (La.)
Roger WickerRoger WickerGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Senate Democrats aren't losing the money race after all To protect taxpayers, the Hyde Amendment must be permanent MORE (Miss.)
Undecided/Have not publicly announced (15)
Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderObama meets a crossroads for his healthcare law Music streamer Spotify joins Gillibrand’s push for paid family leave GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (Tenn.)
John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Black ties and french fries mingle at DC's Meridian Ball GOP seeks to block ObamaCare settlements with insurers MORE (Wyo.)
Kit Bond (Mo.)*
Richard BurrRichard BurrPoll: Trump, Clinton in close race in North Carolina The Trail 2016: The grand finale Greens put M into NC Senate race MORE (N.C.)
Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (Ga.)
Bob CorkerBob CorkerGlobal climate pact may bump into Senate roadblock GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Trump appoints fundraiser to national security advisory council MORE (Tenn.)
Jim DeMint (S.C.)
John Ensign (Nev.)
Mike EnziMike EnziGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Report: Feds spend billions on PR Restive GOP freshmen eye entitlement reform MORE (Wyo.)
Judd Gregg (N.H.)
Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Dems seek cash to expand Senate map More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules MORE (Ga.)
Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.)
John McCain (Ariz.)
Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiWriting in Mike Pence won’t do any good in these states GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (Alaska)
George Voinovich (Ohio)
* Bond says he will “probably” vote yes
This article was updated on July 29 at 12:35 p.m.