Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) endorsed the nomination of Supreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday — even though he was one of her toughest questioners during her four-day Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing last week, senior GOP aides said.
But Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who voted to confirm Sotomayor to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998, is expected to join Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) in opposing her nomination to the high court.
Cochran’s decision to come out against Sotomayor makes him the second Republican Senator who voted for her in 1998 to switch gears this year.
Sotomayor enjoyed significant bipartisan Senate support for her appointment to the New York-based federal appeals court. Seven sitting GOP Senators — Bob Bennett (Utah), Snowe, Lugar, Collins, Judd Gregg (N.H.), Cochran and Orrin Hatch (Utah) — voted in favor.
Bennett came out against her nomination last Friday, while Snowe and Lugar both announced that they would vote for her.
Kyl, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, gave a floor speech Wednesday criticizing Sotomayor’s responses to questions during the hearing and formally announcing that he would vote against her confirmation. Democrats have closely watched Kyl on the Sotomayor nomination since Latinos make up a large part of Arizona’s population.
“Unfortunately, I have not been persuaded that Judge Sotomayor is absolutely committed to setting aside her biases and impartially deciding cases based upon the rule of law,” Kyl said on the Senate floor. “And I cannot ignore her unwillingness to answer Senators’ questions straightforwardly. For these reasons, I oppose her nomination.”