- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will start confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor July 13, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama, who nominated Judge Sotomayor to the bench two weeks ago, has said he would like to see her confirmed by the Senate before Congress starts its summer recess in August to give her time to review cases before the high court reconvenes in October.

Republican lawmakers had been pushing to hold the hearings later in the year, saying they wanted more time to review Judge Sotomayor’s record. But Democrats hold a strong edge in the Senate, where they outnumber Republicans 59 - 40, and on the Judiciary Committee, where they hold a five-seat edge on the 19-member panel.

“There is no reason to unduly delay consideration of this well-qualified nominee,” Mr. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said in a Senate speech.

Mr. Leahy said that personal attacks against Judge Sotomayor — focused on public comments she has made as a Hispanic on the federal bench — spurred him to call for hearings sooner to give her a chance to respond to those criticisms. He added that it follows the same track the Judiciary Committee charted for Chief Justice John G. Robert’s confirmation hearings in 2005.

Judge Sotomayor began making courtesy calls to senators a week ago and delivered a voluminous record of speeches, opinions and rulings for lawmakers to review.

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