The full Senate has begun its official debate on whether to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, after spending much of the last two days on a bill about agricultural spending.
The debate is scheduled to continue through most of the week. Because senators want to leave Washington to begin their August recess by this weekend, the debate will likely last less than the four days Republicans had hoped to spend on it. A vote to confirm Sotomayor is likely near the end of the week.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, began the debate with harsh criticism of the Supreme Court’s five-member conservative majority. He listed several recent cases in which the justices struck down the actions of Congress or other elected bodies, including cases related to employment protections and school desegregation. Sotomayor would be a counterweight to that majority’s “judicial activism,” he said.
“No one has pointed to decisions [by Sotomayor] that evidence bias. No one has shown any pattern of her inserting her own personal preferences into her judicial decisions,” Leahy said in his prepared remarks. “No one can, because it does not exist. That is not who she is, nor the type of judge she has been.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, said Sotomayor has failed to be objective in cases related to property rights and gun rights.
“Judge Sotomayor’s expressed judicial philosophy rejects the ideal of impartial and objective justice,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks. “Instead, her philosophy embraces the impact gender, background, personal experience, sympathies, and prejudices — these are her words — have on judging.”