Sunday, June 16, 2024

Senator Menendez and Latino Leaders Warn Republicans on Sotomayor Vote

On Wednesday, national Latino organizations and leaders held at a press conference in preparation for the upcoming vote on Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor.  Joining them was Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the only Hispanic Democratic US Senator, who warned Republicans that they and their party will “pay a price” with Hispanic voters if they oppose Sotomayor.

The vote is scheduled to take place today and will make Sotomayor the first Hispanic to sit on the nation’s highest court.   On paper, Democrats have the 60 votes to land her the lifetime appointment, yet according to Menendez “maybe less than 10” of the chamber’s 40 Republicans will vote to confirm the nominee.  Democratic Senators Kennedy and Byrd are expected to miss the vote because of health reasons.

Also yesterday, breaking from the majority of his party, Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri announced he would vote for confirmation, making him the seventh Republican senator to support the nominee. Bond said, “I will support her, I’ll be proud for her, the community she represents, and the American Dream she shows is possible.”

Sotomayor, whose parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico, grew up in humble beginnings and went on to get an Ivy League education and excel in her professional career.  She has been lauded as being an inspiring example to Latinos everywhere.

Some conservatives are worried that the opposition to Sotomayor will backfire and hurt the GOP with Hispanic voters, who could play a pivotal role in the 2010 mid-term elections and the 2012 presidential elections.  Menendez pointed out that the importance of this bloc by saying, “In last year’s elections, the road to the White House in large part came through the Latino community. We need to know who is with us, and who is not.”

Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza emphasized what the Sotomayor nomination means for the diverse US Hispanic population and the potential effects of the lack of Republican support.  “I think the Republican Party is at a crossroads with our Latino community. This vote will matter and it will be long remembered,” she said.

Throughout the confirmation hearings Republicans brought up the fact that Democrats blocked a 2001 vote to confirm a Hispanic Bush nominee, Miguel Estrada, to be an appeals court judge. Arguing, as Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did that “Because he had been nominated by a Republican, Estrada got no points for his compelling personal story.”

A recent poll conducted by CNN found that a majority of those surveyed, 51 percent, favored confirmation for Sotomayor.