- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2009

UPDATED:

The Senate’s top Republican said Sunday that he won’t vote for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation as associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court because he worries her personal views would cloud her objectivity on the bench.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said that while he is a “big fan of her career,” comments that she made publicly over the years “led me to believe she lacks the objectivity that you would prefer to have in a member of the Supreme Court.”

“We’re looking for judges here, as Chief Justice [John G. Roberts Jr.] said, [who] are an umpire; call the balls and strikes,” Mr. McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And what I worry about with Judge Sotomayor is her personal views.”

Mr. McConnell said he wouldn’t predict whether Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed, although at least three Republican senators have said they will support her nomination.

The top GOP member on the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Sunday he’s not ready to reveal how he will vote on Judge Sotomayor’s nomination but said he also was “troubled” by her record and personal comments.

“There is no ambiguity about my concerns,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Sessions added that the minority leader’s position to vote no for Judge Sotomayor “will carry a lot of weight” in how other Republicans will vote on the judge’s nomination.

“McConnell has followed this closely … he’s a student of the law,” he said.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, whose panel will have the final say in sending Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote, said he was satisfied how she responded to the more than 17 hours of questioning before the committee last week.

“Her record is pretty clear,” Mr. Leahy said on the “State of the Union” program, explaining that there is enough for “somebody to make up their mind how they’ll vote or not.”

Mr. Sessions said that while the judge didn’t say how she would vote on an abortion-related case, the senator said that “it does seem” that she would rule on the side of protecting abortion rights.

“The organization that she was involved with, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, had filed a number of very aggressive briefs” in support of strong abortion rights, he said.

Mr. Leahy, who said he will vote for Judge Sotomayor, denied that the White House pressured Democratic senators to avoid asking her tough questions.

“Had they done that, I would’ve just hung up the phone,” he said.