August 6, 2009
By Frank James, updated
Federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor won Senate approval to the U.S. Supreme Court with a vote of 68-31 in a somewhat bipartisan vote, receiving eight Republican votes. Justice Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic to take a place on the nation's highest court.
Her confirmation was never in doubt even though a majority of Republicans opposed her, calling the 55-year old judge a judicial activist or questioning her impartiality because of comments of hers they found troubling, including her infamous "wise Latina" statement.
Sotomayor's confirmation is a victory for President Barack Obama who nominated the federal judge to the court after Justice David Souter resigned from the court.
Obama spoke to the media in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room after the Senate vote. He said, in part:
These core American ideals -- justice, equality and opportunity -- are the very ideals that have made Judge Sotomayor's own unique American journey possible. They're ideals she's fought for throughout her career. And the ideals the Senate has upheld again today in breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.
Like so many other aspects of our nation, I'm filled with pride in this achievement and great confidence that Judge Sotomayor will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice.
This is a wonderful day for Judge Sotomayor and her family but I also think it's a wonderful day for America."
As he left the podium a reporter asked Obama if he was "happy with the 68 votes" Sotomayor garnered in the Senate.
"I'm very happy."
According to reports, Sotomayor will be sworn in Saturday. She has a little more than a month to prepare for the new term by hiring law clerks and reading so that she'll be up to speed when the court's new term begins in October.
The Associated Press reports:
The 55-year-old Sotomayor will repeat one oath as prescribed by the Constitution in a private ceremony at the high court at 11 a.m. It will be open only to members of Sotomayor's family. Then, Roberts will administer a second oath, taken by judges, with the new justice's family and friends, and reporters present.
Spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the ceremony apparently will be the first one open to television cameras in the court's history.