After meeting with more than 80 senators and weathering weeks of intense scrutiny, Sonia Sotomayor looks forward to her Supreme Court confirmation hearings starting today. If confirmed, Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will be the 111th justice and the first Latino to ever sit on the nation's highest court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene the hearings today at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill. Although most political insiders believe that Sotomayor's confirmation will be relatively drama-free, President Obama still reached out to wish his nominee good luck yesterday. The hearings are not expected to last longer than a week, but a vote in the full senate has yet to be scheduled. Obama had previously mentioned that he wanted Sotomayor seated in time for the start of the court's next session in September.
Sotomayor, 55, has been preparing for the hearings for weeks, setting up camp in the Eisenhower Office Building next to the West Wing of the White House, answering test questions and poring over cases and decisions.
Democrats seem confident that Sotomayor will face little resistance, Senator Charles Schumer of New York told NBC's David Gregory on Meet the Press that he expected her to receive more support than Chief Justice John Roberts's 78 vote majority in 2005. But Senator Jeffrey Sessions, a Republican lawmaker from Alabama and the ranking conservative on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has repeatedly raised concerns related to Sotomayor's perceived "racial bias," saying, "When you show empathy toward one party, you show bias toward another." Sessions and his fellow Republicans have said they will question Sotomayor on affirmative action, gun rights and whether her Latina heritage would unfairly affect her judicial rulings.