Observers say Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation as the first Hispanic justice is very likely.
Sotomayor, who spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee for about five minutes Monday, returns on Tuesday to begin hours of questioning from committee members who will cast the first votes on her appointment.
Sotomayor thanked her family for their support over the years, especially her mother. And she said she was humbled by President Obama’s nomination of her, and she talked about her childhood.
“The progression of my life has been uniquely American,” she said. “My parents left Puerto Rico during World War Two. I grew up under modest circumstances in a Bronx housing project. My father, a factory worker with a third grade education, passed away when I was nine-years-old. On her own, my mother raised my brother and me.”
Conservative groups have tried to convince the public that Sotomayor is an activist who would mix ethnic and gender bias into her decisions.
So what can Americans expect from Sotomayor?
USC Assistant Professor Kirk Randazzo directs the school’s Judicial Research Initiative which compiles judicial politics in the U.S. and internationally.
He says Sotomayor’s first year on the court will likely be a quiet one, since most justices keep a low profile their first year.
Randazzo says after that, she’ll probably vote similarly to David Souter, who was appointed by the first President Bush in 1990. “At the same time, she will be more visable than Souter, who never liked the spotlight in any form. And from that standpoint, she’s a good pick for Obama.”
Randazzo says Sotomayor will likely not change the overall political makeup of the high court. “There’re basically two liberal justices now, Stevens and Breyer. Ginsberg is liberal-moderate, as well as Souter and Sotomayor. Kennedy is moderate-conservative. And then Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts are basically conservative.”
Summing up those nine members, that’s a block of four conservatives, with Kennedy in the middle as a swing vote. Anthony Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.