Senate Panel Backs Sotomayor for Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to support the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the nation's highest court.

The committee voted largely along party lines with one Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), joining the Democrats to back Sotomayor, who is now on her way to becoming the first Latino member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I feel good about Judge Sotomayor," Graham told the committee. "What she will do as a judge I think will be based on what she thinks is right. I haven't seen this activism that we should all dread and reject."

Other conservatives, meanwhile, are uneasy about seating Sotomayor on the high court, especially when the position comes with a lifetime term.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted against President Obama's pick, marking the first time either rejected a Supreme Court nominee.

Grassley said Sotomayor's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this month had left him with more questions than answers.

"I am not sure that Judge Sotomayor is capable of wearing the judicial blindfold," he said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. "Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that Judge Sotomayor will be able to set aside her personal preferences and prejudices."

Since Obama announced his pick for the high court in May, conservatives have voiced opposition, arguing that Sotomayor is a liberal activist judge who allows sex, race and ethnicity to affect her decisions from the bench.

After her confirmation hearing, many also claimed she appeared to have "a confirmation conversion" about following the law, not personal preferences.

"The Sonia Sotomayor we saw in the nomination hearings was a stark contrast to the Sonia Sotomayor of the previous 55 years. Senators should not be fooled," Wendy Wright, president of the Washington-based Concerned Women for America stated Tuesday.

Listing specifics, Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA's policy director for Legal Issues, stated, "Before the hearings Judge Sotomayor proudly argued that her background, gender and race did and should play a role in her judicial opinions. During the hearings her judicial philosophy suddenly became 'fidelity to the law.' Before the hearings she believed the Court of Appeals is where 'policy is made.' During the hearings she believed judges do not make law. Before the hearings she believed a judge does a better job when he looks at international law. During the hearings she emphatically said she would not look at international law in interpreting domestic law. Even in written questions after the hearings she went back on her word again, saying that 'in limited circumstances' international law can help us decide 'our own constitutional rights.'

"Judge Sotomayor, simply put, cannot be trusted. Any senator who supports her nomination is essentially gambling with our freedoms."

Wright, who is among 156 conservative leaders and citizens who signed a letter urging the Senate to reject Sotomayor, further noted, "Her chameleon-like performance at her hearings cannot erase a lifetime record of a judicial philosophy that allows for the re-interpretation of the Constitution according to her 'wise' and 'superior' personal opinion."

Despite concerns, the Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to confirm Sotomayor next week.