|The Associated Press is reporting that the Senate held a history-making debate Tuesday on confirming Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice, with Republican opponents asserting she would bring bias to the bench and Democratic supporters saying she was a mainstream moderate.
There was little doubt that President Barack Obama's first high court nominee would be confirmed with bipartisan support as early as Thursday, but senators lined up to weigh in on her fitness for the bench anyway, with an eye toward the history books, the nation's burgeoning Hispanic electorate and perhaps the next Supreme Court battle.
"Judge Sotomayor's journey to this nomination is truly an American story ... (and) a reminder to all of the continuing vitality of the American dream," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee chairman. His opening remarks framed Sotomayor's confirmation as a step on the nation's still-evolving "path of inclusion."
"She's a restrained, experienced and thoughtful judge who has shown no bias in her rulings," Leahy said.
Sotomayor, 55, is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a South Bronx housing project and educated in the Ivy League before going on to success in the legal profession and then the federal bench.