WASHINGTON – Three Republican senators said Friday they will back President Barack Obama's choice of Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for a likely easy confirmation.
Given her judicial record, and her testimony this week, it is my determination that Judge Sotomayor is well-qualified to serve as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, Cuban-born Senator Mel Martinez of Florida said on his website.
If confirmed by the Senate, which is dominated by Obama's Democrats, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic justice on the top court.
Sotomayor testified this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she appeared to solidify her support among Democrats, who control the panel. Conservative Republicans on the committee spent four days questioning her on race issues, but analysts think she effectively answered skeptics.
Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana said Sotomayor was clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, where she will replace the liberal-leaning Justice David Souter, who is retiring.
She would join three other liberals and five conservatives on the nine-member court under Chief Justice John Roberts.
Also announcing support for Sotomayor was Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who said in a statement that Sotomayor appears neither rigid nor dogmatic in her approach to the essential task of constitutional interpretation.
Democrats control 60 of the 100 Senate seats. A vote on confirming Sotomayor is expected in coming weeks.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Paul Simao)