Sotomayor vote likely to occur pre-recess

Barring something unforeseen, the Senate will confirm Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor before the August recess.

Republicans in May had suggested that a final floor vote wouldn’t occur until the fall, but GOP senators on Tuesday said they will not push to extend her confirmation into September.

The backtracking indicates that Democrats continue to enjoy the upper hand on the Sotomayor nomination. It also shows that Republicans agree with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that only a week of hearings will be necessary.

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Such a schedule — meaning about four days — would start with Monday’s hearing attended by Sotomayor and New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Leahy said a single week of hearings approximates the confirmation schedule of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito — both Bush administration appointees.

“Oh, good Lord, yes,” Leahy said when asked if a single week would be sufficient. “There’s no reason to spend any longer on this candidate, a woman, than we did for both of those men.”

Two top Republicans on the Judiciary Committee — John Cornyn of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — concurred with Leahy, with a caveat.

“I think that’s sort of in the ballpark,” Cornyn said. “There’s a little dance that goes on, in case you haven’t noticed, so that we don’t get jammed by the majority party. We need time to review her record.

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“If we have that opportunity and there’s nothing unexpected that comes up, it’s possible to have a vote by the end of the month. I don’t want to predict that, because something could come up that would push it past August. But she should be ready to start with the October term of the court.”

Graham said if the schedule for Roberts and Alito followed the same swift pace, he has no problem with a week’s worth of hearings.

“I would expect something similar to what we did before,” he said.

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