Sens. Hatch, Cornyn say they'll vote against Sotomayor

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 24, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and John Cornyn of Texas, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that they'll vote against Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Hatch, who backed Sotomayor's 1998 bid for a federal appellate judgeship and voted to confirm two of President Bill Clinton's Supreme Court nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, said Friday that he'd oppose Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Hatch said he made decision "reluctantly and with a heavy heart," but that he had serious questions about her judicial philosophy.

"I entered into the confirmation process of Judge Sotomayor with the strong desire to vote in favor of her nomination," he said. "Her credentials and experience are very impressive, and her personal demeanor is pleasantly cordial and friendly."

After reviewing Sotomayor's record and hearing her testify, however, Hatch found that he couldn't back her.

"I wish President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee that all senators could support," Hatch said. "I believe it would have done a great deal for our great country. Although Judge Sotomayor has a compelling life story and dedication to public service, her statements and record were too much at odds with the principles about the judiciary in which I deeply believe."

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has finished hearings on the nomination, will vote on Sotomayor on Tuesday.

In the full Senate, Sotomayor has the support of 60 Democrats, and several Republicans — including Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — have pledged their votes as well.

Earlier on Friday, Cornyn announced his opposition to Sotomayor because of her "liberal, activist perspective." However, he acknowledged that "she will be confirmed despite my vote."

As recently as Thursday, Cornyn said he was still weighing his decision. During the hearings, he said that Sotomayor's rulings from her 17-year judicial career were in the mainstream.

However, the former Texas Supreme Court judge had been skeptical of Sotomayor's judicial perspective since her nomination was made.

"Many of her public statements reflected a surprisingly radical view of the law," Cornyn said Friday. "Now, some have said that we can ignore her speeches and just focus on her decisions as a judge. I disagree. Judges on our lower courts have less room to maneuver than those on the Supreme Court."

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Sen. Hatch's statement

Sen. Cornyn's statement

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