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Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings Gear Up

Senate confirmation hearings begin Monday for Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court. Kwame Holman reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, next week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our preview.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The Judiciary Committee will meet in this Senate hearing room Monday to culminate weeks of scrutiny of the personal and professional background of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It began in May when President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court.

  • BARACK OBAMA, U.S., President:

    Walking in the door, she would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    By now, Sotomayor's biography is familiar: Born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in a South Bronx housing project by her widowed mother, she graduated with high honors from Princeton University and was a member of the Law Review at Yale Law School.

    She has served as a New York prosecutor, a trial judge, and an appellate court judge, and would be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

    White House officials and Senate Democrats have portrayed Sotomayor as a moderate jurist.

    SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Senate majority leader: She respects the rule of law. That's what our judicial system is all about, our system of justice. She deserves a fair and impartial hearing.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    But Republicans remain skeptical.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader: Is she allowing her personal or political agenda to cloud her judgment and favor one group of individuals over another, regardless of what the law says?

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Recent polling suggests a narrow majority of Americans view Sotomayor favorably, although opinions tend to break along party lines.

    Amy Walter is editor-in-chief of the Hotline, National Journal's political daily.

    AMY WALTER, editor-in-chief, The Hotline: If you're a Republican, you are likely to oppose her nomination or feel unfavorably about her. If you're a Democrat, you feel favorably toward her and would like to see her get confirmed. That has much more to do with your feelings about President Obama, the person who actually appointed her, than Sotomayor herself.

  • TOM GOLDSTEIN, Scotusblog.com:

    She seems thoughtful, thorough, careful, but not a bomb-thrower on either side.