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Other News: Sotomayor Nomination Heads to Full Senate

July 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-6 to recommend Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice, and consumer confidence fell for a second straight month.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the full Senate confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. Only one of the committee’s seven Republicans — South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham — joined all 12 Democrats voting for the federal appeals judge. She’d be the first Hispanic on the high court.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said Sotomayor’s record proves she does not favor any one group.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-Vt.: During my time in the Senate, I’ve often spoken to the standard I use for judicial nominees. I ask myself whether the nominee be the kind of independent judge who’d be fair and impartial. And having reviewed her record, I know that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been that kind of judge. I’m very confident she’ll be that kind of justice in the United States Supreme Court.

JIM LEHRER: The top Republican on the committee, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, disagreed. He cited Sotomayor’s past statements, including her remark that a “wise Latina” judge might reach a better decision than a white man.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-Ala.: Well, those are phrases and words that have meaning. Her testimony was not consistent with those repeated phrases and statements, but I have to say her testimony to me did not have the clarity and the compelling nature that would overcome those speeches.

JIM LEHRER: The full Senate is expected to vote on Sotomayor’s nomination before it leaves for the August recess next week.

On the economy, consumer confidence flagged this month as Americans worried about job security. The Conference Board, a business research group, reported its confidence index fell for the second month in a row.

Wall Street responded to that news with a mixed day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 11 points to close at 9,096. The Nasdaq rose 7 points to close at 1,975.

A new budget to close a huge deficit is now law in California. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the $85 billion spending plan today. He also used a line-item veto to make additional cuts in child welfare, AIDS prevention, and health care, among other programs. The governor said the budget amounts to “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, R-Calif.: Democrats and Republicans alike hate to make cuts in education and in health care and human services and services to the vulnerable citizens, prisons, law enforcement. All of those things were very tough, and that was really, of course, bad, and I think that’s why you don’t see us celebrating like we usually have a budget signing celebration.

JIM LEHRER: The compromise budget is designed to close a deficit of $26 billion. The state had been forced to issue IOUs to conserve cash.

FBI agents searched abroad today for a suspect in an alleged terrorist ring. Seven other men were charged yesterday in North Carolina. They’re accused of planning attacks overseas, including Pakistan. A federal indictment said the alleged ringleader, Daniel Boyd, trained in Pakistan himself and recruited and trained others in the United States.

The government of Nigeria has imposed curfews and sent in troops to quell violence by Muslim rebels. The clashes broke out Sunday in the north as a radical sect attacked police. Since then, more than 50 people have died. Nigeria is divided between the Christian south and the Muslim north. The rebels want strict Islamic law imposed in their region.

In Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Gates made an unannounced visit to get a progress report. He arrived a week after Prime Minister al-Maliki suggested U.S. forces might need to stay beyond 2011 after all. Gates would not discuss that issue as he met today with Iraqi officials. Instead, he said it’s a subject best left for later.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a motorcycle bomb killed at least eight Iraqis and wounded more than a dozen others.