Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Wednesday that he definitely will vote for Sonia Sotomayor for the US Supreme Court. That’s a break from his party’s conservative leaders, who opposed President Barack Obama’s pick.
Graham had hinted during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings that he might back the 55-year-old judge who would be the nation’s first Hispanic on the high court.
Graham says she is well-qualified and has a mainstream record on votes, even though she made some past statements related to race and gender out of the courtroom.
Graham said the path of least resistance for him personally was to vote against Sotomayor, since he, a Republican, is in the minority party. But he felt compelled to vote yes, as the right vote for himself and for the country. “We’re talking about one of the most qualified people to be considered for the Supreme Court in decades. She has 17 years judicial experience. I’ve looked at her record closely and I believe that she follows precident.”
Just as a Supreme Court expert from the University of South Carolina told South Carolina Radio Network months ago, Graham said Wednesday that he does not believe the court will dramatically change in terms of ideology due to Sotomayor’s selection. Graham says Justice Souter(SUIT-er) has been more liberal than he would prefer, but Graham says Sotomayor will not be any more liberal than Souter.
Graham says Sotomayor is mainstream because she has a rating of “highly qualified” from the American Bar Association. “I don’t feel bound by that rating. But during the Alito-Roberts confirmation hearing under President Bush, I used that as a positive. As a Republican I can’t use that one time and ignore it the other.”
Graham said if Sotomayor’s success inspires young Latina women to seek a law career, it’s a good thing.
And in talking about his final decision to vote for Sotomayor, Graham said he was willing to start over, and he talked about “the golden rule” as it relates to recent behavior by Democrats. “The political golden rule is do unto others as they did to you, not as you would have them do unto you. I hope we can get back to a more traditional sense of what this body was all about. This body was on the verge of blowing up. The Democrats were filibustering President Bush’s nominees for the Appellate Court and Supreme Court in a fashion never known by the body.”