- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

Republicans accused Democrats on Wednesday of moving too hastily on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, warning that the decision could imperil her confirmation as they pressed the judge for more documents from her past.

The seven Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee wrote to Judge Sotomayor on Wednesday asking her to supply documents they say she left out of her response to a detailed questionnaire on her background, writings and rulings.

It also questions Judge Sotomayor’s membership in the Belizean Grove, an elite private club composed of high-powered women that’s the female answer to the secretive, 130-year-old Bohemian Grove.

In her original response to the questionnaire, Judge Sotomayor noted that the group discriminates on the basis of gender, but added, “I do not consider the Belizean Grove to invidiously discriminate on the basis of sex in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

The White House acknowledged that the questionnaire responses were not complete. Press secretary Robert Gibbs called that “fairly usual” for Supreme Court nominees, and said Judge Sotomayor would provide whatever was lacking as soon as the information is available.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, criticized the Democrats’ decision to schedule mid-July hearings for Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation, while another senior Republican senator floated the possibility of a filibuster by angry Republicans against President Obama’s first high court nominee.

“I don’t think anybody wants to filibuster Judge Sotomayor - I certainly don’t want to - but sometimes the only way you can make sure things are fair … is to invoke some of the rules,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, announced Tuesday that hearings would open July 13. That’s 48 days after Mr. Obama named Judge Sotomayor for the high court.

It took at least a week more than that to begin hearings on each of the last three justices to be confirmed, but almost two weeks less for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed in 1993.

Justice Ginsburg had been a federal appeals court judge for 13 years when she was nominated; Judge Sotomayor has been on the federal bench for almost 17 years.

Mr. McConnell did not say what the Republican Party is prepared to do, if anything, to try slow the timetable. But several other Republicans warned that Democrats were inviting problems for Judge Sotomayor’s nomination by insisting on a fast process.

Mr. Leahy said he was just trying to ensure that Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation timetable tracks with the one for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who got a vote 72 days after former President George W. Bush nominated him in 2005.

Democrats want to complete the process for Judge Sotomayor by the time the Senate breaks for a monthlong vacation Aug. 7. That would be 73 days after Mr. Obama nominated her. Republicans point instead to the 92 days it took to get a confirmation vote on Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Democrats are also using Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to stoke and expand their political base. The Democratic National Committee launched a feature on its Web site called “Sign Judge Sotomayor’s Virtual Cast,” where supporters can leave a note for the judge, who broke her ankle in an airport stumble Monday.