Republicans for Sotomayor

We're still a couple of hours shy of the vote that will confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. At the moment it looks like eight Republicans will support her: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Kit Bond of Missouri. George Voinovich of Ohio is said to be up in the air, according to the National Review's online edition.

In some ways this is predictable, You figured that the Maine Senators, the most left leaning in the GOP Conference, would go with Sotomayor. Lindsey Graham was not a shocker although I was surprised that he actually did support her. I'm surprised that Orin Hatch, who supported a lot of Democratic judicial nominees over the years, didn't come over, but he's also dropped out of the health care talks which suggests that he's getting some pressure from the right.

It's probably telling that two retiring senators, Bond and Gregg, voted for her. Freed from the conservative interest groups, did they really want to make a symbolic vote against the first Hispanic justice?

If Sotomayor suddenly turns into some far-out jurist, the Republicans who voted against her will be able to hold their head high. If she doesn't and if she's just a reliably liberal vote on the court, one who also finds herself in the majoirty, they're going to look foolish. I noted earlier that in 1987, the Senate confirmed Antonin Scalia 98-0 for two main reasons. There'd been a huge fight over the elevation of William Rehnquist to be Chief Justice and second--and this seems somehow quaint now--there was so much excitement about Scalia being the first Italian-American justice. That kind of affirmative action made his nomination a breeze. But Sotomayor isn't getting the same deference at least not from most Republicans.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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