Early last week, I wrote the following on Twitter: “I am getting the impression that #Sotomayor is flying through the hearing, at least for now.” Though I don’t think it’s quite a huge surprise that Sotomayor isn’t having much trouble, and would not, given the 60-vote supermajority of the Democrats (most of their votes seem assured on this one), the question was where the chips would lay once every vote was tallied. Would all the Democrats vote in the affirmative? And how many, if any, Republicans would join them?
The answer is in the beginnings of its formulation when moderate Republican Lindsay Graham said today that, despite some of his misgivings, he would vote to confirm Sotormayor. Graham got a lot of attention last week when he gave some tough questions to Sotomayor regarding her past “wise Latina” statements and about her judicial philosophy.
Personally, I’ve always thought Obama had this one in the bank from the beginning, and it’s been widely discussed that Republicans might not fight too hard on this one, saving their fights for future possible nominees, especially if one will replace a conservative justice. I think Graham’s announcement shows this to be the case. Obviously Sotomayor is never going to win over the base conservatives, but she might find an easier task with the moderates. That’s not to say that all moderate Republicans will join Graham, but some of them may.
Also, the Democrats would be wise not to get too cocky if the vote comes closer than expected. I see any close vote on confirmation a mere gift to Obama, and not any suggestion of his ability to get future nominees past the Senate. Not if his past experience with nominees is any judge.