Conservatives demand GOP delay Sotomayor vote

A coalition of more than 100 conservative activists has called on Senate Republicans to delay a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor until the fall.

The group has called on GOP senators to use every tactic at their disposal to hold up the confirmation process until September.
       
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“The confirmation debate and the final vote should occur is September and Republicans should ensure that happens, to allow the American people to engage in this debate,” said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, which includes groups such as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America.
       
The Third Branch Conference polled its members in recent days and found unanimous desire among more than 100 conservative activists and leaders to press Senate Republicans for a delay.
       
“This issue is bigger than partisan politics; some of the statements Sotomayor has made should be of concern to everybody,” said Mario Diaz, policy director of legal issues for Concerned Women for America.
       
Members of the coalition will begin writing letters to Senate Republicans and contacting them through other means Friday.
       
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on Judiciary, said he has not given much thought to postponing the confirmation vote until after August. He criticized Democrats, however, for giving Republicans little time to prepare for Sotomayor’s hearing, which is scheduled to begin July 13.
        
“They’re obviously trying to rush this through and so we’ll just see what our colleagues think about it,” he said of Democrats’ efforts to speed Sotomayor’s nomination through the chamber.
       
Sessions has warned that he may demand a delay of the hearing.
       
“We don’t have all the documents and it’s pretty clear that it’s very difficult for us to be adequately prepared by that hearing date. These are huge matters.”
       
Miranda, a former Senate staffer who used to handle judicial nominations for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), said Republicans could use several tactics to delay a vote on Sotomayor.
       
Members of the Judiciary Committee are customarily granted the ability to delay a panel vote for one week. After that one-week delay, which Democrats expect to grant for Sotomayor, Miranda said Republicans could use other tactics to delay her further.
       
Miranda argued that Republicans could delay the nomination by refusing to participate in a vote to move Sotomayor to the Senate floor.
       
Rule IV of the Judiciary Committee states that at least one member of the minority party must vote to cut off debate in committee.

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“If there is objection to bring the matter to a vote without further debate, a roll call vote of the Committee shall be taken, and debate shall be terminated if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with ten votes in the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority,” states the rule.
      
The minority, however, has not dared to filibuster a controversial nominee in the Judiciary Committee in recent history. Senate Republicans may be leery of setting such a precedent.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has also argued that Sotomayor needs time to get settled on the court before the beginning of the fall term on Oct. 5. He has noted that newly elected senators have nearly two months to move into their Capitol offices.

Leahy has also said that Republicans will have had enough time to examine Sotomayor’s record before the hearing.

“As for preparedness, those Republican critics were prepared to air their grievances and concerns and to discuss her record and her cases three weeks before the scheduled date of the hearing. What they clearly demonstrated today is that they are prepared to proceed with the July 13 hearing,” Leahy said in a recent statement.