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 GrassleyThe Trail 2016: GOP stages of grief Grassley: Trump would pick 'right type' of Supreme Court justice Advocacy group seeks probe into DOD statements on sexual assault 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 ClintonDole alone in not shunning GOP convention Trump's VP: Top 10 contenders West Virginia is no longer Clinton country 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 HatchInversion rule: latest example of government overreach Supreme Court wrestles with corruption law IRS: Annual unpaid tax liability was 8B MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsStoddard: Can Trump close the deal with the GOP? The Trail 2016: And then there was one Maine Republican senator suggests she could back Trump MORE (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Thad CochranThad CochranFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika 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 SessionsSessions: Ryan made ‘big mistake’ not backing Trump Maine Republican senator suggests she could back Trump Trump snags third House committee chair endorsement MORE (Ala.) and John McCainJohn McCainMissouri Republican: Trump has not earned my vote Stoddard: Can Trump close the deal with the GOP? John Boehner to attend GOP convention 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.