The White House is touting the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has a longer judicial record than any of the current justices on the Court. That fact, however, endangers her confirmation because of what it will mean for pro-gun senators during the August recess.
There were 73 days between Chief Justice John Roberts’ nomination and confirmation, but 93 days between Justice Samuel Alitos nomination and confirmation. The difference is due to the fact that Justice Alito had a longer record.
Judge Sotomayor’s record is longer than Justice Alito’s, so it should take at least 93 days before a vote on her nomination. That would be mid-August, when the Senate is in recess.
As a senator, Barack Obama fought against voting on John Roberts and Sam Alito, so he can hardly demand that the current Senate rush this process. But President Obama must push for a quick vote, because allowing the nomination to go into August would imperil it.
The reason for this danger is one word: guns. As recently reported, Judge Sotomayor is one of only three federal appeals judges to say that the Second Amendment does not stop your city or state from banning all guns, even in your home. In other words, Judge Sotomayor says that a ban like the D.C. gun ban struck down by the Supreme Court last year is constitutional if enacted by a city or state.
There are a number of senators who are pro-gun Democrats. These senators, like Mark Begich in Alaska, Montana’s Jon Tester and Max Baucus, and Ben Nelson from Nebraska, could be in serious political trouble if the exceptionally pro-gun voters in their state find out about Judge Sotomayor’s beliefs about gun rights.
If this nomination goes into August, there could be as many as ten Democratic senators that would be under enormous pressure to oppose confirmation. The result could be a huge defeat for President Obama.
Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.