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RNC Chairman Michael Steele has put out this rather cautious-sounding statement on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:

"Republicans look forward to learning more about federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor's thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court's fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. Supreme Court vacancies are rare, which makes Sonia Sotomayor's nomination a perfect opportunity for America to have a thoughtful discussion about the role of the Supreme Court in our daily lives. Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has released this statement on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:

"Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.

"Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a 'rubber stamp.' Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications."

The Sotomayor pick promises to split liberal and conservative interest groups right down the middle. Here's Michael B. Keegan, President of People for the American Way, on the nomination:

President Obama has made a superb choice. Judge Sotomayor has one of the sharpest intellects on the federal bench. She's shown that she'll bring an open mind to the Court and rule on each case according to its particular merits. Her nomination is a very positive step towards bringing diversity to our highest Court.

President Obama used this opportunity to do exactly what he promised in last year's election - to select a person who has demonstrated an abiding commitment to core constitutional values of justice, opportunity, and equality under the law. He has named someone who understands the impact that the law has on the everyday lives of ordinary Americans.

This nomination is good news for people who care about the future of our rights and liberties. Now it's up to our Senators to avoid the distraction of attacks from the far right and work for a smooth, fair confirmation process. We urge them to confirm Judge Sotomayor with all deliberate speed.

By nominating Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court, President Obama is not just making a bid for history. He's also bucking the will of several anonymous lawyers and law clerks who tried to run her off the road after it became clear that she was on his short list.

The anatomy of the Sotomayor whisper campaign is pretty straightforward. Once it was obvious that she was a serious contender, an unknown number of Second Circuit prosecutors and former clerks banded together and approached The New Republic's legal correspondent Jeffrey Rosen with attacks on the prospective nominee's fitness.

The sources told Rosen, among other things, that Sotomayor lacked the intellectual heft and good manners to serve on the court, and, in an article billed as the first in a series analyses of potential nominees, Rosen went with it.

From there, the attacks went viral.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee is right out the gate with this comment on the Sotomayor nomination, with this post on Twitter:

So, President Obama picks liberal Sonia Sotomayor for SCOTUS......more to come.


Let the fun begin!

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor isn't even official yet, and already, conservatives are revving up their attack engines.

But the White House is prepared. And, interestingly, they're doubling down on the descriptions of Sotomayor's career and character that conservatives object to the most. "Sonia Sotomayor...brings not only brilliance in the law but a common sense understanding of how the law practically works."

According to the memo, "Judge Sotomayor is widely admired as a judge with a sophisticated grasp of legal doctrine and a keen awareness of the law's impact on everyday life."

The language is reminiscent of the speech Obama gave after the news of Justice David Souter's retirement broke, when he declared that he wanted an empathic nominee, with an understanding of how the law effects regular people. Almost immediately conservatives went on a politically questionable attack against 'empathy' as a proxy for their usual argument that judges should not be "activists."

The full memo appears below the fold.

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Going into the Sotomayor confirmation process, it's worth looking back at the last time she faced a Senate confirmation vote, as a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998. The following Republican Senators voted to confirm her at the time, and are also still around today:

Bennett (Utah)
Cochran
Collins
Gregg
Hatch
Lugar
Snowe
Specter (has since switched to the Democrats)


The following Republicans voted against her, and are still in the Senate today:

Brownback
Enzi
Grassley
Hutchison
Inhofe
Kyl
McCain
McConnell
Roberts
Sessions
Shelby


No Democrats voted against her confirmation at the time. Also, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) missed the vote.

Obama To Nominate Sotomayor For SCOTUS President Obama will announce at 10:15 a.m. ET this morning that he is nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York for the Supreme Court. Sotomayor, age 54, has been one of the top names mentioned in the media since the news first broke of Justice David Souter's retirement. She would be the first Hispanic Justice, and the third woman to serve on the court.

Obama's Day Ahead: Raising Money For Harry Reid President Obama will be having his regular meetings with advisers today in the Oval Office. At 10:15 a.m. ET he will announce the Sotomayor nomination for the Supreme Court. Then in the afternoon he will depart from the White House for Las Vegas, Nevada. He will arrive in Las Vegas at 8:50 p.m. ET, and at 10:55 p.m. ET he will attend a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, at Caesar's Palace.

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Barack Obama will nominate Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court this morning at 10:15 a.m. according to numerous reports.

Sotomayor is 54 years old, and was appointed to her first federal judgeship by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991. If confirmed, she will be the Court's first Hispanic Justice, and will bring the number of women serving to two.

Justice David Souter announced last month that he'd step down from the court after almost 19 years. Sotomayor will fill the vacancy created by his retirement.

Republican governors George Bush and John Engler of Michigan (L) meet with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (2nd-L) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-KS, (2nd R) on December 12, 1997 to discuss the GOP budget at the Capitol in DC.

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Gingrich answers reporters' questions on April 12, 1996 while holding a Carpet Python snake in the Herpetarium at the St. Louis Zoo.

Newscom/UPI

Gingrich tours the Forbidden City with his second wife, Marianne in Beijing on March 28, 1997.

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Gingrich and his third wife Callista attend the Republican National Convention on September 2, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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Gingrich and former first lady Nancy Reagan greet former President Gerald Ford and former first lady Betty at a party for former President Ronald Reagan on his 85th birthday on February 6, 1996.

Newscom/UPI

Newt at the Republican National Convention in 2000.

Newscom/Zuma

President Bill Clinton waves to supporters in the gallery of the House of Representatives as Vice President Al Gore and House Speaker Gingrich applaud prior to Clinton's fifth State of the Union address on February 4, 1997.

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President Obama meets in the Oval Office with Rev. Al Sharpton and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to discuss education reform May 7, 2009. At left is Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

White House/Pete Souza

Gingrich smiles during a visit to the US Capitol for the unveiling of his official portrait on November 15, 2000 in Washington, DC.

Newscom/AFP

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