Reid, La Raza promote Sotomayor together

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a series of prominent Hispanic leaders on Thursday presented a united show of confidence in Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, saying Republicans are “grasping at straws” to oppose her.

Reid spoke at a press conference with Raul Yzaguirre, founder and former president of the National Council of La Raza; Liz Lopez, a vice president of the National Hispanic Bar Association; and John Amaya, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, after meeting with them and about a dozen other prominent Hispanics for a 10-minute meeting in his office.

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Calling Sotomayor “a classic example of someone whose time has come,” Reid said he expected a fairly smooth confirmation process because her critics lack substantial reasons to oppose her.

“I don’t know why it should be a fight,” Reid said. “At this point, they’re grasping at straws. I guess you can pick a fight over nothing, and maybe they want to fight over nothing, but at this stage her credentials are very loud and clear.”

The majority leader also noted that Sotomayor’s questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee is being returned to the committee Thursday, far earlier than past nominees, and repeated his resistance to setting an “arbitrary deadline” for a final Senate vote on the nomination.

The Obama administration wants a vote before the congressional recess in August, but Republicans are pressing for more time. Reid repeated his vow to allow the GOP enough time to scrutinize Sotomayor’s record, but avoided specifics.

Saluting Sotomayor’s humble background and “impeccable qualifications,” Yzaguirre said she was “clearly the most qualified person of anybody that sits on the bench today.”  Yet he said Hispanic leaders realize a long fight lies ahead.

“Her ethnicity is a plus, but in no way means she’s going to get a pass,” Yzaguirre said. “She’s going to be scrutinized. She’s going to be vetted. We remain assured that she will pass every test that’s put in front of her.”

Lopez also lauded Sotomayor’s resume and said she is “truly qualified,” while Amaya stressed that Hispanics need and deserve a voice on the nation’s highest court.

“We see this as a great opportunity for America and, yes, a great opportunity for Latinos,” Amaya said. “This is truly a milestone that we will look back on.”