GWEN IFILL: The Senate spent the day debating the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has the story.
KWAME HOLMAN: As the debate over her nomination to the Supreme Court reached its last hours, Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation appeared imminent. Nearly all Senate Democrats have expressed their intention to vote for her. And at the end of today's debate, at least seven Republicans said they will vote to confirm.
They include retiring Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, who announced his support today, but also took the opportunity to criticize then-Senator Obama for rejecting Republican-nominated judges.
SEN. KIT BOND, R-Mo: I could easily say, as Senator Obama said, that I disagree with the nominee's judicial approach and that allows me to oppose the nominee of a different party. Luckily for President Obama, I do not agree with Senator Obama.
For my liberal friends, I hope they remember this day, when another qualified nominee before the Senate who is conservative, the standards set by Senator Obama should not govern the Senate.
KWAME HOLMAN: Florida's Mel Martinez also is retiring next year and is the Senate's sole Hispanic Republican. He, too, said he'd vote for Sotomayor despite disagreements with her, particularly on her ruling in a gun rights case.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ, R-Fla: I believe her view, as expressed in her panel's Maloney v. Cuomo opinion, of whether the Second Amendment applies against state and local governments is too narrow and contrary to the founders' intent. But the confirmation process is not the proper place to re-litigate this question, nor is Judge Sotomayor's judicial record on this issue outside the mainstream.
KWAME HOLMAN: But Sotomayor's Republican opponents, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, said her ruling in that very case casts doubt on her promises to adhere to settled law.
SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.: I believe that she bent the Constitution when she ruled in the Maloney case that the rights -- the right to bear arms was not a fundamental right of the American people.