POLITICS
07/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sotomayor Hearing Dates Set, Democrats Pleased

Democrats say they made an important step towards getting a swift confirmation for Judge Sotomayor when it was announced, on Tuesday, that hearings on the Supreme Court nominee would take place in mid-July.

In a speech before the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy announced that the opening of the Sotomayor hearings would begin on July 13, putting her confirmation timeline on par with that of Chief Justice John Roberts.

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"This is a schedule that tracks the process the Senate followed by bipartisan agreement in considering President Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in 2005," Leahy said. "That agreement was reached before the Committee received the answers to the bipartisan questionnaire, and before the Committee had received any of the 75,000 pages of documents from his years working in Republican administrations. If 48 days were sufficient to prepare for that hearing, in accordance with our agreement and the initial schedule, it is certainly adequate time to prepare for the confirmation hearing for Judge Sotomayor."

One progressive judicial activist said the dates were "good," putting Sotomayor "on track with previous successful nominations."

The goal, in the end, is to limit the amount of time for conservatives to drag out the Supreme Court nomination. And, in this regard, precedent seems to be on Sotomayor's side. According to Leahy's office, Roberts was confirmed 72 days after he his nomination was announced. By this time frame, Sotomayor should be confirmed by August 6, before the Senate recesses.

"There is no reason to unduly delay consideration of this well-qualified nominee," Leahy said. "Indeed, given the attacks on her character, there are compelling reasons to proceed even ahead of this schedule. She deserves the earliest opportunity to respond to those attacks."

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