By Kevin Bogardus - 06/01/09 07:40 AM EDT
Judge Sonia Sotomayor is expected to make her case in person this week
as she visits Capitol Hill for the first time as President Obama’s
Supreme Court nominee.
And despite harsh criticisms from prominent conservative figures, the federal court of appeals judge can expect a fair hearing from the people who will actually vote on her confirmation: sitting U.S. senators.
Perhaps most importantly, none of the Republicans repeated the most explosive charge coming from party figures such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and conservative talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh — that Sotomayor is a racist. Most dispelled that argument outright or declined to comment on it.
In fact, Sotomayor found high praise in an unusual place: Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears Trump, Clinton discuss counterterrorism with Egyptian president MORE (R-Ala.). On "Meet The Press" Sunday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking member described her as having an “almost ideal” mix of experience for a Supreme Court nominee, with her resume boasting stints as a prosecutor, private litigator and a trial judge before sitting on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
On her tour of Capitol Hill, Sotomayor can begin trying to soothe worries over her statement that resulted in the racism charges. The judge gave a 2001 speech in which she suggested that a Latina woman would make a better judge than a white man.
That has angered Republicans the most, but those who
appeared on the Sunday talk shows all seemed willing to listen to the
New York judge’s explanations behind the speech.
Scheduled on Sotomayor’s itinerary this week are reportedly visits with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe missed opportunity of JASTA States urged to bolster election security How the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill MORE (D-Nev.) and possibly his counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnell9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad States urged to bolster election security How the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill MORE (R-Ky.). Also included are stops with Sessions and Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo Overnight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild MORE (D-Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.
What is the most useful for the nomination process from Sotomayor’s extensive record is not her 17 years on the bench but that she has gone through Senate confirmation twice.
She is also no stranger to judicial politics. Her nomination to the court of appeals was held up by Republicans in 1998 over worries that she would make it to the Supreme Court. Now, more than 10 years later, Sotomayor will begin to make that case in person this week.