Friday, August 7, 2009

Voting their Conscience

Just nine Republicans joined majority Democrats and the Senate's two independents to support Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation Thursday as the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. They included the Senate's few GOP moderates and its lone Hispanic Republican, retiring Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, as well as conservative Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the party's third-ranking leader.

The National Rifle Association, which hadn't weighed in on Supreme Court nominations past, strongly opposed her and threatened to downgrade its ratings of any senator who voted to confirm Sotomayor. Republicans who were initially considered possible supporters later announced their opposition, citing gun rights as a key reason.

Of the GOP senators standing for re-election next year, all 12 voted against Sotomayor.

Of the seven GOPers likely to retire between now and '10, four -- Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO), Judd Gregg (NH), Mel Martínez (FL) and George Voinovich (OH) -- voted yes. Retiring Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Kay Bailey Hutchison voted no. Brownback and Hutchison intend to run for GOV in their respective states.

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