Sotomayor Hearings Wrap Up; Dems Press for Quick Vote

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appeared headed for confirmation as the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court after Senate hearings ended Thursday.

Following three days of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Obama's first high court pick gave Republicans no new or damaging ammunition to use in their case against her.

Sotomayor parried questions on hot-button issues like guns and abortion rights and defended her speeches that have been faulted as showing bias.

Still, some conservatives are calling that her confirmation vote be delayed until after the Senate returns in September from its summer break.

Critics say Sotomayor's repeated pledge to follow the law and not allow personal biases to influence her unduly was merely a "confirmation conversion" and that the appeals court judge's past record is just as important as the words she spoke this week.

"Several Senators pointed out the contradiction between what Judge Sotomayor told the Committee during her testimony over the past few days and the speeches that she had given over the past decade," noted Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), on Thursday.

"Yesterday the nominee said she opposed using other countries' laws. However, just last April she stated that 'nothing in the American legal system stops us from considering the ideas that [international] law can give us,'" added Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Wednesday.

"Further imaginative recreating occurred when the nominee agreed with Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) that the 2nd Amendment was an 'individual right.' In truth she was part of a judicial panel that ruled the 2nd Amendment does not apply to states and that it is not a 'fundamental right,'" he said.

Perkins also noted that while Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) reported that Sotomayor was overturned by the Supreme Court only three times, in truth, seven of her decisions have been overturned – three in this year alone.

Just last month, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who said city officials violated their rights when it threw out the results of a promotions test on which few minorities scored well. As a judge on the Second Circuit appeals court panel, Sotomayor had supported a trial judge's decision to dismiss the firefighters arguments without a hearing and did so in a one-paragraph opinion that has been criticized as much for its brevity as the result.

"Many of us would like to take back things we have said or done in the past. It takes a special kind of audacity to do it while under oath in your Supreme Court nomination hearing," Perkins commented.

Despite calls for a delay to the vote, the GOP's leader at the confirmation hearings, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he looked forward to getting the vote before lawmakers leave Washington for their annual August recess.

At the moment, Sotomayor has overwhelming if not unanimous support among the Senate's 58 Democrats and two independents - and is likely to win a number of votes among the 40 Republicans as well.

Democrats, sensing a big win, immediately scheduled a committee vote Tuesday, starting the clock on a schedule for a final confirmation vote before the Senate leaves Aug. 7 for their four-week summer break as well as before the next Supreme Court argument on Sept. 9.

President Obama, one day after high court Justice David Souter announced his intention to retire, said he hopes to swear in a replacement in time for "him or her" to be seated by the first Monday in October – when the high court's new term begins.

The president announced Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court on May 26.