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Why Sotomayor Was Appointed by a Republican President in '92

11:29 AM, May 26, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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During his remarks this morning, President Obama pointed out that Sotomayor was appointed as a district court judge in 1992 by Republican George H. W. Bush. But a friend on Capitol Hill notes this bipartisan talking-point is empty. The following 1992 New York Law Journal article explains that Sotomayor was nominated as part of a compromise in which Democratic Senator Moynihan was allowed to recommend judges for two of the seven vacancies:

The nominations of Andrew O'Rourke, Westchester County Executive, and Sonia Sotomayor, of Pavia & Harcourt, to the Southern District bench are awaiting hearings by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The normal time period taken from the time a nomination reaches the committee for investigation, hearing and committee vote is two months, with action by the full Senate ordinarily following within a few days. Current nominations, however, have been held up since October by a dispute between the White House and the Senate Committee over the committee's right to access to FBI reports on candidates. A compromise reached last month should get the process moving again.

The seven Southern District vacancies have existed for periods of from 7 to 39 months. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., has recommended persons to fill five of the vacancies, and, under an agreement between the Senators, Senator Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y., two.

Senator D'Amato's recommendations are Mr. O'Rourke; Richard C. Casey, a corporate partner at Brown & Wood, who has been blind for five years; Colleen McMahon, a litigation partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Manuel Quintana, general counsel of the City Housing Authority; Loretta A. Preska, a litigation partner at Hertzog, Calamari & Gleason; Paul Shechtman, counsel to Manhattan District Attorney Robert A. Morgenthau; and Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Williams.

Senator Moynihan has recommended Ms. Sotomayor and Deborah A. Batts, associate professor at the Fordham University School of Law.