Senate Makes History with Sotomayor Vote

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As expected, the full Senate confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination as the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Thursday.

Even before the actual vote, the tally was pretty much in Sotomayor's favor.  She was confirmed by a vote of 68 to 31.

Most Republicans voted against her, but it all boils down to the math, and ultimately they did not have enough senators in their column to block her confirmation.

The 55-year-old judge from Bronx, N.Y., becomes the 111th justice and only the third woman to sit on the high court.

Her path to confirmation had its share of problems.  Some of it had to do with President Barack Obama remarks when he nominated her, describing his desire for "empathetic" judges.

Sotomayor also contributed to her own share of controversy.  The "wise Latina" comment she made in speech several years ago spread like wildfire on the video sharing site YouTube.

It came back to haunt Sotomayor during the Senate hearings and lingered all the way to Thursday's debate, with Republicans questioning whether she'd be an impartial judge who adheres to law and Democrats defending her statement and record saying she will be a mainstream judge.

"Our judges must decide the cases before them on what the law that this Congress writes and what it requires even if the law compels a result that is at odds with the judge's personal, deeply held feelings," said GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley.

"I would hope that senators would be wise enough themselves to look at Judge Sonia Sotomayor's record on the bend and not just on one line in one speech," Democratic Sen. Richard Durban responded.

In the end, nine GOP senators looked past that statement and voted for Sotomayor to move on the Supreme Court.  They believe her 17 years on the bench shows she has the right judicial temperament.

Still, conservative leader Ralph Reed told CBN News he disagrees and that Republican senators who voted for her could be in trouble in the election.

"I think if a Republican is claiming to believe in judicial restraint, and judges interpreting the law rather than legislating from the bench, I don't see how a vote for Sotomayor is consistent with that and I don't think the voters will either," he said.

The White House says Sotomayor will be sworn in as a justice on Saturday.

She will be replacing retiring Justice David Souter, and will use the summer to hire clerks and read briefs to prepare for the court's next session in October.

*Originally published August 6, 2009

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