- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

The Senate’s top Republican said Sunday that he will not vote for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation for the Supreme Court because he worries that 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 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.” “What I worry about with Judge Sotomayor is her personal views.”

Mr. McConnell said he wouldn’t predict whether Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed. But with Democrats holding a 60-vote “filibuster proof” majority in the Senate and with at least three Republican senators saying they will support her nomination, her confirmation appears likely.

“Unless you have a complete meltdown, you are going to be confirmed,” conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Judge Sotomayor last week.

The top Republican member on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday that he’s not ready to reveal how he will vote on Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, adding that he 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,” adding that the minority leader’s position to vote “no” on Judge Sotomayor “will carry a lot of weight” in how other Republicans will vote.

“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 questioning before the committee last week.

“Her record is pretty clear,” Mr. Leahy said on “State of the Union,” 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 cases, the senator said “it does seem” that she would rule on the pro-choice side.

“The organization that she was involved with, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, had filed a number of very aggressive briefs” strongly in support of the pro-choice stance, 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.

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