Republicans Push Back Against Sotomayor

A broken ankle is not keeping Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor from meeting with senators on Capitol Hill in the weeks before her July 13 confirmation hearing. But Republicans are ratcheting up their disapproval of the way the nomination is being handled by Senate Democrats and the White House.

In a letter to the White House Thursday, GOP senators complain that Sotomayor's questionnaire contains "apparent omissions" and are asking the judge to "revisit" the questionnaire and provide a supplement "as soon as possible."

The letter, signed by the seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asks for more information on a range of activities.

The judge's time at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in the early 1980s, her service on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and her membership in an organization, the Belizean Grove, that only invites women to join are all part of the request.

"Please explain," the senators write, "the basis for your belief that membership in an organization that discriminates on the basis of sex nonetheless conforms to the Code of Judicial Conduct."

According to its Web site, the Belizean Grove was created to give women an organization similar to the Bohemian Grove, a "130-year-old, elite old boys' network of former presidents, businessmen, military, musicians, academics, and non-profit leaders."

Democrats dismiss the Republican complaints, saying the judge has told the committee she intends to continue to update her questionnaire as requested information becomes available, and that, in the interest of time, she chose to send the bulk of the information to the senators as soon as possible.

"As is the case with many Supreme Court nominees," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday, "anything that is lacked in the questionnaire will be provided in a timely manner to the committee."

But Republicans continue to complain that Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is rushing the confirmation process by scheduling the hearings on July 13 -- 48 days after President Barack Obama announced her nomination.

Republicans Want More Time to Review Sotomayor's Record

"They want the shortest confirmation timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory," Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. "This violates basic standards of fairness, and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties -- a thorough review of the president's nominee to a lifetime position on the highest court in the land. The decision to short-circuit that process is regrettable and unnecessary."

In a floor speech, Leahy dismissed the Republican complaints:

"I have put together a schedule that tracks the process the Senate followed, by bipartisan agreement, in considering President Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in 2005. At that time, I served as the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee. I met with our Republican chairman, and we worked out a schedule which provided for Chief Justice [John] Roberts' hearing 48 days after he was named by President Bush."

The schedule for Roberts hearing was later pushed back by a week after the death of then Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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