Sotomayor on the Hill
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is keeping an open mind about Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
"We have the whole package here," he announced in his office this morning with the smiling Supreme Court nominee seated to his left, her hands folded neatly in her lap.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he would take the judge's academic credentials into account when assessing her nomination.
"Academically, I mean, I am terribly impressed. Princeton, summa cum laude. We have Yale Law School, editor of the law review. That's very impressive," Reid said, as the judge smiled, blinked, nodded her head and mouthed a "thank you."
The Democratic leader hinted that he would also weigh Sotomayor's professional qualifications when forming his opinion.
"I've been very impressed with learning everything I have about you. A prosecutor, private practice, and now a judge for these many years. A trial judge for those many years and now appellate judge. And so we could not have anyone better qualified," he said.
Then, Reid made a startling admission: "Of course, I'm somewhat biased."
No! Mr. Leader, have you prejudged the nominee?
Reid then clarified that he was speaking merely of the nominee's personal biography. "I think that your life story is so compelling, that America identifies with the underdog. And you've been an underdog many times in your life, but always [emerged as] the top dog. So I very much appreciate that."
Not that he has formed an opinion on confirmation, mind you.
"Mr. Reid, do you expect her to be confirmed?" inquired Tom Ferraro of Reuters after Reid's one minute and 42 seconds of oratory had ended.
The majority leader paused as he rose from his chair but said nothing.
"Judge," called out the Associated Press's Laurie Kellman, "how are you feeling today?"
Sotomayor, closely guarded by White House aide Stephanie Cutter, would not divulge her condition.
The two of them -- majority leader and "whole package" -- then sat down privately for what promised to be a tense and high-stakes meeting.
| June 2, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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