Poll: Most expect partisan battle over Sotomayor nomination

Chris Rizo Jul. 10, 2009, 4:00pm

Sonia Sotomayor

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Nearly half of Americans would like to see the U.S. Senate confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, but most expect a partisan battle, a poll released Friday indicates.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found that 47 percent of Americans want the Senate to confirm Sotomayor, while 40 percent do not want to see her on the nation's highest court.

Thirteen percent of respondents said they have no opinion on the appeals court judge's pending confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee begin Monday. Committee chairman Sen. Partick Leahy, D-Vt., has indicated his support for President Barack Obama's nominee.

The poll's results show a partisan divide when it comes to Sotomayor's nomination, with nearly seven in 10 Democrats saying they support Sotomayor's confirmation and nearly two of three Republicans saying they opposed.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said senators would be justified in rejecting Sotomayor's nomination if they disagree with her on issues such as gun control and abortion, while 49 percent said they would not be justified in rejecting her.

In terms of Sotomayor's chances of confirmation, 60 percent said they expect a major battle between Democrats and Republicans, while 38 percent of respondents said they anticipate a relatively easy confirmation process.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said he is not so sure Sotomayor, currently a judge on the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, faces an easy set of hearings.

"Republican opposition to Sotomayor's confirmation is a higher level of opposition from the party out of power than any Supreme Court nominee has faced in the past two decades," he noted.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll surveyed 1,026 adults by phone June 26-28. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sotomayor was nominated in 1991 by Republican President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1997, Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated her to the appeals court post she now holds.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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