As the leading Republican voice on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions is insisting that Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court will require a thorough review of her written record, even if the administration hopes to get it done before the court reconvenes in the fall.
"I think that's rushing it," Sessions said, when asked if confirmation could take place by August. "I believe that she has over 3,000, maybe 4,000-plus opinions that need to be examined. And I think there's no need for us to do that [rush]. We do need to do it by October. That's when Justice Souter will be stepping down."
It was just a few years ago, when his party was trying to seat a justice, that the Alabama Republican took a different approach. As the Senate considered George W. Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the bench in the winter of 2005, Sessions said he was more concerned with filling the vacancy on the court than a complete review of Alito's record.
"My personal view is, let's finish it this year; let's not have it hanging out there," Sessions told the Philadelphia Inquirer in November, 2005. "You don't have to read everything he's written," Sessions said.
There are, of course, many differences between confirmation processes, probably none larger than the partisan dynamics in the Senate. Whereas the GOP insisted on a firm deadline for Bush's nominees -- and Democrats pleaded for more time to review -- the opposite now holds true for Obama.
"There are certain issues for which politicians want deadlines and others for which they don't," said Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. "The Republicans want to string things out as long as possible, hoping to find or come across something. The other side of the argument is, let's have a date specific so we have some certainty when this will be completed."