The Senate voted to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court today, making her the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and just the third woman to sit on the court.
The 55-year-old Sotomayor, who was confirmed by a vote of 68-31, will be sworn in on Saturday at the Court.
Despite strong and vocal opposition from some Senate Republicans, nine GOP senators voted for her confirmation, more than the number of Democrats who supported Justice Samuel Alito, but fewer than the number who crossed party lines to support Chief Justice John Roberts.
Among them were four Republican senators who will be retiring at the end of 2010, including Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Mel Martinez of Florida and George Voinovich of Ohio. Other GOP senators who cast an "aye" vote were Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
All 59 Democrats who were present voted for Sotomayor.
"With this historic vote, the Senate has affirmed that Justice Sotomayor has the intellect, the temperament, the history, the integrity and the independence of mind to ably serve on our nation's highest court," President Obama said after the vote.
Rookie Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., presided over the Senate chamber this afternoon when the Senate voted to confirm Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
At viewing parties on both coasts, Hispanic reaction to Sotomayor's confirmation by the Senate was brimmng with emotion and joy.
In New York, Carmen Garcia, a single mother from Spanish Harlem, watched the vote at La Fonda Boricua restaurant.
"This brings a new outlook for all these children in Harlem, in Spanish Harlem, in South Bronx, all over the streets that they go everyday, walking down the street to school and they only see violence, and they see gangs, and they see drugs... If she could do it, they could do it also," Garcia said.
In Los Angeles, Azucena Maldonado and Nancy De Los Santos sported T-shirts with the lettering "Wise Latinas Rule," a reference to a controversial remark Sotomayor made during a speech -- that a "wise Latina" judge might reach a better decision than a white man -- that earned Republican ire early in the confirmation process.
Said Maldonado, "She's a wise Latina. We're wise Latinas and so we made our T-shirts to show everybody that we're wise Latinas and we support her. And we're so happy that she's confirmed today."
Following the vote, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said dissenting Republicans sent "a tough message to us as a community."
Of the opposition, Sen. Patrcik Leahy added, "If President Obama had nominated Moses the law giver they would have voted no."
In an interview with ABC News, League of United Latin American Citizens President Rosa Rosales said she was "very disappointed" with the Republicans who voted against Sotomayor.