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Obama's top court choice faces battle ahead

•  Notable Attorneys     updated  2009/05/26 09:17


President Barack Obama's choice of Sonia Sotomayor to join the U.S. Supreme Court will generate a sharp political battle in the Senate over her liberal positions but she is likely to prevail.

Sotomayor's selection would do little to change the court's 5-4 conservative majority as she replaces another liberal. Republicans promised to her give her respectful, rigorous scrutiny during the summer months.

She would be the first Hispanic and second woman on the high court, and fulfills Obama's objective of choosing someone without a privileged background, given that she grew up in a housing project in the Bronx in New York City.

* If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace the retiring David Souter, who was a reliable liberal vote for the court's minority.

Souter was known as "Bush's mistake," because he was far more liberal than the Republican President George H. W. Bush realized when he chose him.

Obama's choice was evidence that he did not intend to make the same mistake, since Sotomayor, unlike Souter, has staked out fairly liberal positions on many issues.

* Obama's choice will produce more fireworks in her Senate confirmation battle than any of the other people who were on Obama's short list.

Given the Democrats' strong majority in the 100-member Senate, it appeared unlikely Republicans would be able to derail her appointment or drag it out indefinitely.

The White House said Sotomayor had received bipartisan support in the past, since the same Republican Bush had nominated her as a trial judge in New York in 1991.


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