Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Date set for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings

Updated Tuesday, June 9th 2009, 2:31 PM


Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, wearing a cast on her right foot, Monday, June 8, 2009. On Tuesday, the date was set for her confirmation hearings.

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats announced Tuesday that Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearings will begin July 13.

In setting the mid-summer hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is bargaining the Senate can approve the first Hispanic high court justice by early August, when Congress takes its summer recess.

"This is a schedule that I think is both fair and adequate - fair to the nominee and adequate for us to prepare for the hearing and Senate consideration," Leahy said. "There is no reason to indulge in needless and unreasonable delay. This is an historic nomination."

Leahy had engaged in long discussions with the top GOP foil on the panel, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, about the start date.

Some Republicans, however, do not want to "rush" Sotomayor's hearings - even if it means there won't be a vote on her nomination until after the high court convenes in October, following its own summer break.

"Given the attacks on her character, there are compelling reasons to proceed even ahead of this schedule.
She deserves the earliest opportunity to respond to those attacks," Leahy said.

Having broken her ankle on Monday at LaGuardia Airport, the New York federal appeals court judge met with eight more senators Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Sotomayor is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter. Democrats hold 59 of the 100 seats in the chamber, an advantage that may grow if Al Franken of Minnesota is seated following a lengthy recount and court tousle.

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