Senate Votes Sonia Sotomayor As First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice

Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton University, says it's "too early to tell" what backlash Republicans will feel, suggesting that Sotomayor's confirmation "might actually diminish some of the backlash that would have developed if Senate Republicans had been able to stifle this nomination."

Zelizer sees more disturbing implications where the nomination process is concerned.

"The question is: does this harm the kind of nominees we get. Does it scare certain people out of the mix or does it cause presidents to not nominate someone who might be very good simply because they are nervous about whether they can survive the politics of this," the professor said.

Dissenting Republicans Make Opinions Heard on Sotomayor

On the Senate floor today some of the GOP senators opposing Sotomayor made their voices heard.

Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, cited then-Sen. Obama's opposition to both of President Bush's Supreme Court nominees: Justices Roberts and Alito.

"[Obama] concluded that when he withheld his consent on those two, that the person did not meet his view of what the vision for America was. I've reached the same conclusion on this nominee. In all good conscience, I must withhold the consent," Risch said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, commended Sotomayor's "inspiring life story and a great ethnic heritage," but said he wished "President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee whom all senators could support."

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin defended Obama's nominee and suggested that "those who oppose her because of fear of her life experience" are doing a disservice to the nation.

Durbin said those voting in opposition "will be listed in our nation's history of elected officials, one step behind America's historic march forward."

Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced on the Senate floor he would vote against her nomination, deriding Sotomayor as an "activist judge" who would seek to substitute her own opinion for the role of legislators.

The National Rife Association opposed Sotomayor's confirmation in a letter to Senate leaders last month. The powerful gun lobby said it will count support for her as opposition to gun rights and threatened to evaluate candidates through the prism of this vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sotomayor's nomination on July 28, sending the matter to the Senate floor after a vote that fell largely along party lines. Of the 19-member panel, 12 Democrats voted for Sotomayor and six Republicans voted against. One Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, joined the Democrats and stated that Sotomayor "meets the qualifications test that was used in [Justices] Scalia and Ginsburg."

Graham continued, "If she, by being a woman on the court, will inspire young women, particularly Latino women, to seek a career in the law, that would be a good thing."

This story compiles reporting from ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg, Dennis Powell, Ann Compton, Rick Klein, David Chalian, Jonathan Karl, Theresa Cook, Tilesha Brown, Edward Sunol and Z. Byron Wolf.

Read more about Sotomayor's confirmation hearings.

Day Four: Sotomayor Faces Tough Questions About New Haven Firefighter Discrimination Case (July 16, 2009)

Day Three: Sotomayor Sidesteps Questions About Abortion, Gun Rights (July 15, 2009)

Day Two: GOP Senator Questions Sotomayor's Temperament On The Bench (July 14, 2009)

Day One: Sotomayor Pledges Fidelity To The Law (July 13, 2009)

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