WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)- Judge Sonia Sotomayor's U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin Monday, with legal grillings from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The hearings being at 10:00 a.m. EST.
Thirty-one invited witnesses, including Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, are expected to speak at four days of hearings on whether the appeals court judge should be seated on the nation's highest court.
If confirmed, Sotomayor would replace Associate Justice David Souter and become the country's first Hispanic justice on the nine-member court. She is President Barack Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court.
Republicans on the 19-member Judiciary Committee have vowed in particular to question Sotomayor's views on racial bias.
Sotomayor, 55, is currently a judge on the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
A case the appeals court decided found that a group of white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were not denied promotions because of their race. Sotomayor endorsed the majority opinion, which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this month.
An American Bar Association panel said Sotomayor is "well qualified" to serve as an associate justice nation's highest court. The rating is the highest the ABA gives to jurists.
Although most U.S. Supreme Court nominees have received the "well-qualified" rating by the ABA's Committee on the Federal Judiciary, in 1991, then-nominee Clarence Thomas was given a simple "qualified" designation.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey last week indicates 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.