With nine Republicans joining a united Democratic caucus, President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee was easily confirmed on a 68-31 vote, allowing her to replace David Souter’s by the time the court reconvenes in September. The full session will begin Oct. 5, when Sotomayor will likely preserve the ideological balance of power on the court, split between four conservatives and four liberals with Justice Anthony Kennedy the deciding vote in most narrowly divided cases.
The confirmation, as the Senate prepares for a month long August break, marks a victory for Obama after a rough month on his domestic agenda.
“It is distinctively American to continually refine our Union, moving us closer to our ideals,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), moments before the confirmation vote. “Our Union is not yet perfected, but with this confirmation we will be making progress.
“Years from now, we will remember this time, when we crossed paths with the quintessentially American journey of Sonia Sotomayor and when our nation took another step forward through this historic confirmation process.”