Politics & Government

Sotomayor clears judiciary panel; Senate to vote next week

WASHINGTON — As expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, setting her up for confirmation by the full Senate next week.

The committee voted 13-6, with only one Republican, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, breaking ranks to join the 12 Democratic members in support of Sotomayor. Graham said that while he would not have chosen Sotomayor himself, President Barack Obama's decision to nominate the first Latina to the high court was "a big deal" and that "America has changed for the better with her selection."

Most Senate Republicans oppose her as too liberal, but five have said they'll vote to confirm her along with what appears to be a solid bloc of 58 Senate Democrats and two independents. Besides Graham, the Republicans who've said they'll back Sotomayor are Indiana's Richard Lugar, Florida's Mel Martinez and Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The 55-year-old federal appellate judge was born in New York City to parents of Puerto Rican heritage, raised in a South Bronx housing project and educated at Princeton and Yale Law School.

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