By J. Taylor Rushing - 07/27/09 07:47 PM EDT
Republican opposition to Sonia Sotomayor has solidified over the past week and it is likely that most GOP senators will reject her nomination to the Supreme Court.
A review by The Hill of recent media statements by Republican senators finds that 14 of the conference’s 40 members are opposed to the nomination, five support her and 21 have not indicated which way they will vote.
President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court is far from endangered, however. Most, if not all, Democrats are expected to approve her nomination and Republicans have vowed not to mount a filibuster.
The five GOP yes votes on Sotomayor are expected from Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and Mel Martinez (Fla.). Graham is alone among the seven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in announcing support for Sotomayor. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has said he will “probably” vote for Sotomayor.
Expected GOP “no” votes on Sotomayor will likely come from Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Bob Bennett (Utah), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), John Cornyn (Texas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.). Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) will also oppose her, the Des Moines Register reported Monday evening.
The vote is still not expected to be as partisan as the last Supreme Court nomination, that of Samuel Alito in January 2006. Only four Democrats supported Alito — the party was in the minority at the time — with all 40 others opposed. By contrast, Democrats were evenly split, 22-22, in September 2005 on the nomination of John Roberts to be the court’s chief justice.
Sessions said on Monday that the floor vote will be more controversial than the vote on Roberts.
“One reason is pretty obvious: John Roberts was sent from central casting to be chief justice,” Sessions said. “Her [Sotomayor’s] philosophy of judging, as expressed over a decade and in speeches, is not consistent with the American ideal of justice. It’s just not. That’s why she backtracked so dramatically at the hearing, because the administration probably felt the American public wouldn’t be happy with that. It’s not that she’s an evil person. She’s just bought into a certain approach.
He added, “But I’m not counting votes. I have not twisted any arms, and neither has Sen. McConnell or anyone else. We know [Tuesday] she’ll come out of the committee and be on the floor in a few days. The president does deserve some deference, even though President Obama gave almost no deference to Roberts and Alito.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has announced its intention to include the Sotomayor vote in future scorecards of legislators’ voting records. In a letter to McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week, the NRA cited two controversial decisions in Sotomayor’s past: Maloney v. Cuomo, in which she ruled the Second Amendment did not apply to state and local governments, and United States v. Sanchez-Villar, in which she ruled that gun ownership is not a fundamental right.
“We believe any individual who does not agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less the highest court in the land,” the NRA’s letter reads. “Given the importance of this issue, the vote on Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.”
The NRA provided The Hill with its top “scorers” who were up in the 2008 cycle. They include Sessions, Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roberts, McConnell, Cochran, Wicker, Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Inhofe, Graham, Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Cornyn, Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
A CNN/Opinion Research Inc. poll released on Friday found that 47 percent of respondents favored Sotomayor for the court, with 40 percent opposed and 13 percent uncertain. The poll was conducted June 26-28 and included 1,026 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
This article was updated on July 28 at 10:55 a.m.
Bob Cusack, Michael M. Gleeson and Kiera McCaffrey contributed to this article.