Leahy says he’s disappointed Sotomayor drew so few GOP votes

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says he believes Judge Sonia Sotomayor will play become a leader on the U.S. Supreme Court.

He says he’s disappointed that only nine Republican senators voted for Sotomayor’s confirmation.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy played a key role in the confirmation process.

The hearings also marked the first time that Leahy had chaired the committee for the review of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Leahy believes that Sotomayor’s strong experience, first as a trial judge and then as an appellate judge, will be a valuable asset to the other members of the Supreme Court.

(Leahy) "That her experience will help a great deal when she’s doing arguments among the other justices. Of course, so much of that is done out of sight of other people. You can only guess at what might happen in that. But I would hope that they would rely on the fact that she’s had more experience in all these areas that come before the court than any other person, Republican or Democratic, appointed on the Supreme Court."

(Kinzel) When the confirmation hearings got under way, Leahy expressed the hope that the vote on the nomination would be bipartisan.

It didn’t turn out that way. Of the 40 Republican members in the U.S. Senate, only nine voted for the nomination. It’s a number that Leahy says is disappointing.

(Leahy) "For some reason, the Republican leadership decided to oppose her and they made it almost an article of faith to oppose her. And I think that was a mistake and I applaud those Republicans who spoke out in favor of her and voted for her. And the irony is … if she had been nominated by a Republican with exactly the same record she would have gotten every single vote in the Senate."

(Kinzel) Sotomayor is expected to be sworn into office in the next few days.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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