Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that it is too early to know if Republicans will seek to block the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.
The Kentucky Republican, in an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" program, said a filibuster by Republicans is a possibility, but added that it was "way too early to tell" if GOP lawmakers would take that route.
"It's way too early to be talking about whether anybody opposes this nominee," McConnell said.
Senate Democrats are just one vote shy of having the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster attempt.
McConnell said he was opposed to Democratic filibusters of former President George W. Bush's judicial nominees when Republicans controlled the Senate. But since Democrats blocked some of Bush's nominees, the procedure is open to Republicans now that they are in
the minority, he added.
"The Senate will filibuster judges; that precedent was established," he said. "Democrats have firmly established that as a precedent but that doesn't mean you're going to use it."
McConnell said the appeals court judge tapped by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy to be left by retiring Associate Justice David Souter deserves to have her record scrutinized.
"What (Democrats) are trying to do is insist on the shortest time frame for someone who has the longest record of any Supreme Court nominee that we've considered in recent times," McConnell said, noting she has taken part in more than 3,600 cases.
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 U.S. appeals court post she now holds.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, among others, have labeled Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, a racist over remarks she made in a 2001 speech at the University of California Berkeley.
She said a "wise Latina woman" may make better decisions than a white male.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.