Obama’s choice

President Obama’s selection of Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter gave Republicans some pause on Tuesday.

Instead of the knee-jerk partisan reactions that usually come with the nomination of a Supreme Court justice, Republicans noted they must do their due diligence and review Sotomayor closely.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump faces enormous test with healthcare bill More than 300 abuse victim support groups oppose GOP healthcare bill Dem lawmaker: GOP healthcare battle is like the Titantic MORE (R-Ky.) said, “Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.”

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership GOP chairman wants 'robust' tax reform process in the Senate Senate Dems plan floor protest ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (R-Iowa), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said, “A lifetime appointment requires a thorough vetting, and I expect Judge Sotomayor to receive fair and deliberative consideration.”

Unlike their GOP counterparts, Democrats were not cautious. They applauded the selection of the first Hispanic to the high court. Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, shed tears.

Senate Republicans are in a politically difficult spot. If Republicans rally against Sotomayor, as The Hill’s Sam Youngman reported on Tuesday, they risk alienating the growing Hispanic constituency that is already trending Democratic. However, if they go too easy on her, the conservative base will cry foul.

Former Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla (Texas), an ally of former President George W. Bush’s, told The Hill that Senate Republicans will have to be mindful of how they treat Sotomayor: “That is the political reality. In an ideal world, you would decide on a Supreme Court justice based on their qualifications. But in the real world, this is something Senate Republicans are going to have to deal with, and that’s her ethnicity.”

That delicate balance was on display in a list of talking points sent by the Republican National Committee (RNC) to influential Republicans.

“Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor’s record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments,” the document said.

When former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonJared Kushner hires Abbe Lowell for legal team Overnight Energy: Trump White House kicks off 'Energy Week' Bill Clinton: 'The water is going to keep rising’ whether US stays in Paris or not MORE nominated Sotomayor to the U.S. Circuit Court, 25 Republican senators voted to confirm her. Seven of those 25 — Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchRift opens in GOP over budget strategy Overnight Finance: GOP divided over welfare cuts in budget | Lawmaker loses M on pharma stock he pitched | Yellen says another financial crisis unlikely in our lifetimes GOP chairman wants 'robust' tax reform process in the Senate MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsTrump faces enormous test with healthcare bill Overnight Finance: GOP divided over welfare cuts in budget | Lawmaker loses M on pharma stock he pitched | Yellen says another financial crisis unlikely in our lifetimes Overnight Tech: EU hits Google with record fine | Amazon gears up for lobbying battle | Facebook hits 2 billion users | New ransomware spreads across globe MORE (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: CBO finds 22M more uninsured under Senate health bill | GOP agrees ObamaCare taxes must go | Supreme Court to look at Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections | More tax reform hearings | Green light for partial travel ban | Senate Dems set principles for potential budget negotiation Defense hawks gird for budget brawl MORE (Miss.), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) — still serve in the upper chamber. An eighth, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), was a Republican at the time but switched to the Democratic Party last month.

Among the Republicans who rejected her nomination were Sens. McConnell, Grassley, Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsBrooks’s prior attacks on Trump could hurt in Alabama Senate race McCaskill attended reception at Russian ambassador's residence in 2015 Sessions: Supreme Court travel ban order a victory for separation of powers MORE (Ala.) and John McCainJohn McCainGOP governors could help bring down Senate health bill Lawmakers wary of Trump escalation in Syria Senators urge Trump to do right thing with arms sales to Taiwan MORE (Ariz.).

The Sotomayor nomination has a long way to go, but in the critical first round, Democrats are on offense and Republicans are on their heels.