Shoo-in vote for Sotomayor

Eleven years after the Senate last confirmed Sonia Sotomayor for a federal judgeship, the chamber is poised on Thursday to put her on the Supreme Court by a nearly identical margin.

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's sloppy launch may cost him Nagging misconceptions about nudge theory The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' MORE’s nominee — the court’s first Hispanic — is a shoo-in for confirmation, leaving the margin of approval and the amount of GOP support as the only real questions. Even Sotomayor’s stiffest critics have conceded she has enough votes.
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“I don’t think there’s any doubt of passage,” said Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden's sloppy launch may cost him Cindy McCain weighs in on Biden report: 'No intention' of getting involved in race Why did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? MORE (R-Ariz.), who will vote no.

Media tallies, including one by The Hill, predict the margin will closely mirror the 67-29 total of Oct. 2, 1998, when Sotomayor was confirmed for a seat on the 2nd Circuit. All of the 29 opposition votes came from Republicans, although 25 of them crossed over to support her.

This time around, GOP opposition has stiffened. Only seven of the 40 Senate Republicans have announced they will support her confirmation: Kit Bond of Missouri, Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBarr to testify before Senate panel next week on Mueller report Kushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Africa's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? MORE of South Carolina, Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Mel Martinez of Florida, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Dem chairs to meet with progressives on drug pricing | Oregon judge says he will block Trump abortion rule | Trump vows to 'smash the grip' of drug addiction | US measles cases hit post-2000 record The Higher Education Act must protect free speech Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE of Tennessee. Bond and Martinez are not seeking reelection.

As of press time, at least 30 GOP senators had said they will vote no.

The vote will also likely land somewhere between the fairly bipartisan 78-22 vote that confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts in September 2005 and the much more partisan vote of 58-42 that confirmed Justice Samuel Alito in January 2006. Democrats split evenly, 22-22, on Roberts, but only four supported Alito and 40 opposed him.

Throughout the debate, Republicans have noted that Obama, as a senator, voted against Roberts and Alito, a point they raised again on Wednesday.

Bond was one of several in the GOP who criticized Obama for opposing them based on philosophy, not qualifications — a standard they repeatedly noted they reject. But that didn’t stop him from announcing his support for Sotomayor.

“I could easily say, as Sen. Obama said, that I disagree with a nominee’s judicial approach, and that allows me to oppose the nominee of a different party,” said Bond on Wednesday. “Luckily for President Obama, I do not agree with Sen. Obama.”

Democrats said seven GOP votes are enough to consider the vote bipartisan, but Republicans disagreed.

“It’s hard to characterize that as a significant bipartisan vote,” said GOP Policy Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet MORE (S.D.). “Remember, there were predictions that she was going to get 70 to 80. She could get close to 70, but you’d have to describe it as a lighter Republican vote than people were first predicting. It will be short of a Roberts-type number, but more than Alito.”

When Obama nominated Sotomayor on May 26, some predicted she would be confirmed by a wide margin. But in the course of the debate she appeared to lose some Republicans, who assailed her as an activist judge based on comments from past speeches. A mostly smooth hearing process before the Judiciary Committee last month hardly won over her critics, as the nominee repeatedly refused to be drawn into detailed discussions of her personal opinions.

Three of the top four Republican leaders — Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Thune — plan to oppose her.

Republicans appear to be unconcerned with any potential backlash from Latino voters who might be offended that so many did not support the first Hispanic justice. With the exception of Martinez, Republicans in states with large Hispanic populations — like Texas Sens. John CornynJohn CornynOn The Money: Fed pick Moore says he will drop out if he becomes a 'political problem' | Trump vows to fight 'all the subpoenas' | Deutsche Bank reportedly turning Trump records over to NY officials | Average tax refund down 2 percent Kushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Cornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MORE and Kay Bailey Hutchison and Arizona Sens. Kyl and McCain — are voting no.

Yet the nomination’s success is assured. Republicans are not insisting on a 60-vote threshold, leaving Sotomayor’s confirmation to a simple majority. Democrats are expected to overwhelmingly support her, after a last handful of undeclared members announced their support Wednesday, including Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Kent Conrad (N.D) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyBiden racks up congressional endorsements The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling MORE Jr. (Pa.).

The powerful lobbying effort over Sotomayor on the sidelines is likely to end with a rare — though increasingly common — defeat for the National Rifle Association. The gun lobby is opposing the nomination and plans to consider the vote in its lawmaker evaluations, yet eight NRA-backed senators plan to buck the group: Sens. Graham, Martinez, Alexander, Bond, Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonSeveral hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada MORE (D-S.D.), Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Hill the vote shows “the Senate has refused to be intimidated by the NRA’s threats, and will confirm a well-qualified justice whose background as a prosecutor has given her a firsthand understanding of how gun violence affects American families.”