By The Hill Editors - 05/26/09 06:17 PM EDT
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.
Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Senate fight brews over Afghan visas Clinton email headache is about to get worse 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 ClintonClinton allies see big boost from Brown endorsement Aide: Clinton wasn't close to IT expert who managed server The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 HatchSenate contradicts itself on Gitmo Ten senators ask FCC to delay box plan An affordable housing solution both parties can get behind MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsWhy a power grid attack is a nightmare scenario GOP lawmaker: 'Republicans were wrong’ to block Garland Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds MORE (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Thad CochranThad CochranSenate panel passes 4.5B defense bill Senate votes to block USDA catfish inspections GOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' 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 SessionsThe Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator to Ryan: 'Trump is where the Republicans are’ Rankings: Trump’s top 10 VP picks MORE (Ala.) and John McCainJohn McCainGOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Why a power grid attack is a nightmare scenario Senate fight brews over Afghan visas 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.