Sotomayor will answer questions on race, bias at Senate hearings
In this file photo, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor meets with Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in his office on Capitol Hill. AP Photo
Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor is expected to cruise to a seat on the Supreme Court, but the explosive topics of race and bias will likely provide its share of drama at her Senate confirmation hearings, which kick off Monday.
Republican senators Sunday vowed to grill Sotomayor over her comments that a wise Latina might make a better decision in a case than a white man.
She has criticized the idea that a woman and a man would reach the same result, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the committee, said on CBS Face the Nation. Thats philosophically incompatible with the American system.Members of the the Senate Judiciary Committee will also press Sotomayor, 55, for her views on hot-button social issues from affirmative action to abortion.
Still, few predicted her nomination would be held up and Republicans announced they would not try to filibuster the final vote.
I believe shell be approved, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is one of Sotomayors biggest champions, said during an appearance on Meet the Press.
In the seven weeks since Sotomayor, an appeals court judge who grew up in New York Citys public housing, was tapped to be the first Latina on the high court, opponents have highlighted her comments about race, accusing her of bias. But that hasnt dampened the enthusiasm of supporters in her hometown.
She had one misstep, saying she has a better opinion than a white male, said Dave Percoskie, 61, of Manhattan. I think that was out of context.
Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton, said GOP senators will raise the issue but will also tread lightly, fearing a backlash from Hispanic voters.
In many ways the risks for Republicans are greater than the rewards they will get, he said.
President Barack Obama called Sotomayor yesterday and complimented her for making courtesy calls to 89 senators.
Todays hearings will consist of opening statements from the 12 Democrats and seven Republicans on the committee, as well as Sotomayor herself. The questioning will likely begin tomorrow and Democrats are hoping to have a full Senate vote before the August recess.
Anastasia Economides and the AP contributed to this story.