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Sotomayor Looks Set To Win Easy Confirmation

Publication Date: 
August 05, 2009
National Public Radio
Madeline Brand and Melissa Block

Lecturer Tom Goldstein was on NPR to discuss the Senate vote on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States:


It appears certain that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed this week by the Senate. As of now, eight Republicans have said they will join with Democrats to vote for Sotomayor. Thirty Republicans say they will vote no.


We thought we'd see how this vote is stacking up compared with past nominees. And for that we turn to attorney Tom Goldstein, who frequently argues cases before the Supreme Court. He started the popular Supreme Court blog called SCOTUSblog. Welcome back to the program, Tom.

Mr. TOM GOLDSTEIN (Attorney, SCOTUSblog): Thanks so much. It's great to be with you.

BLOCK: And if we end up seeing, say, three-quarters of the Senate Republicans voting no on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, let's compare that with the past two Republican nominees from President Bush: John Roberts and Samuel Alito. How does the Republican vote shaping up now compare with Democratic votes for those nominees?

Mr. GOLDSTEIN: Well, there was broader support for John Roberts, who came across in his confirmation hearings as incredibly expert and very smooth and knowledgeable. The opposition to Sonia Sotomayor is going to look a lot like Democratic opposition to Sam Alito, who was the most recent nominee by President Bush.

BLOCK: And he got, I think, only four Democratic votes in the end.

Mr. GOLDSTEIN: Exactly. It's the rare exception of a senator from the opposite party that supported either Sam Alito or is going to support Judge Sotomayor.

BLOCK: Well, it's interesting, though, because if you look back at Bill Clinton's nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, they both sailed through the Senate by far greater margins. The vote on Stephen Breyer was 87 to 9. For Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 96 to 3. What was different back then?

Mr. GOLDSTEIN: Two things were different. First, the politics were different. It wasn't as bitter a division in the U.S. Senate, which tries to be a pretty collegial institution. And second, President Clinton wasn't really trying to move the Supreme Court ideologically and consulted a lot with Republicans. And so he knew that there would be a lot of support when he named those particular justices.


BLOCK: Attorney Tom Goldstein is the founder of SCOTUSblog. The full Senate is expected to vote on Judge Sotomayor's nomination tomorrow.