Tales from the Trail

Sotomayor: getting lost on way to Supreme Court nomination

USA-SOTOMAYOR/When Sonia Sotomayor got THE CALL, she says her heart started racing and she started crying.

President Barack Obama had called on her cell phone to say she was his first pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I actually stood by my balcony doors, and I had … my cell phone in my right hand and I had my left hand over my chest trying to calm my beating heart,” Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court Justice, said in an interview with the cable television network C-SPAN.

On that evening in late May, Sotomayor said, “I caught my breath and started to cry and said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President’.” Her public admission of emotion was uncharacteristically candid for a sitting Supreme Court Justice.

And then she faced her first hurdle on the road to confirmation — getting to Washington.

Baseball gets Justice — Sotomayor to throw first pitch

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a longtime avid fan of the New York Yankees baseball team, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

A child of Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in the Bronx not far from where the Yankees play. Sotomayor, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate last month, is the first Hispanic justice on the high court.

BASEBALL/The Yankees said ceremonial first pitches by Sotomayor and by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli on Friday will take place during the team’s final regular season homestand to commemorate Hispanic heritage month.

Sotomayor’s first day on bench in public session, Ricky Martin attends

Justice Sonia Sotomayor received a warm welcome from her fellow Supreme Court colleagues on her first day on the bench in a public session attended by such luminaries as President Barack Obama and singer Ricky Martin.

Sotomayor, 55, is the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court and only the third woman. She wore the standard black judicial robe, with a white lace collar, known as a jabot, that was given to her by her colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The investiture marked the third ceremony for Sotomayor since the Senate approved her nomination in early August. USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

McCain opposes former rival’s first Supreme Court nominee

OBAMA/Nine months after losing the U.S. presidential election to Democrat Barack Obama, Republican John McCain is still taking center stage to voice disagreement with his former U.S. Senate colleague.

On Monday, McCain announced in a Senate speech that he would vote against Obama’s first U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, a federal judge for the past 17 years.

“She is an immensely qualified candidate,” McCain conceded.

But he added: “I do not believe that she shares my belief in judicial restraint.”

Live updates from the Sotomayor confirmation hearings

Reuters’ Andrew Quinn will be providing live updates on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor, scheduled to start on Tuesday at 0930 ET. (Editor’s note: Reader comments appear in a smaller font)

1,200 law professors sign up as Sotomayor fans

Nearly 1,200 law professors from across the country signed up to support U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and one early Republican critic says he may even vote for her.

With the stage set for her nationally broadcast Senate confirmation hearing next week, President Barack Obama’s first pick for the highest U.S. court seems headed toward confirmation as the first Hispanic U.S. justice. USA/

Backers and opponents of Sotomayor have called her a liberal. Yet a group of law professors squarely in her corner say she is a moderate who goes by the book — the law book. 

The First Draft: Recess!

USA/There’s a real school’s-out feeling around Washington today. Congress left town last week after the House voted for bill to curb climate change, and most lawmakers won’t be back until after the July 4 holiday weekend. The Supreme Court issues its last rulings of the term, with a full sheaf of decisions expected — but then the justices will be gone for the summer.

President Barack Obama’s hosting Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at the White House, with a joint appearance in the afternoon. In addition to a full plate of U.S.-Colombian issues, the two leaders could address last weekend’s military coup in Honduras. Obama has already called for peaceful resolution of “tensions and disputes” but he may have more to say.

Later in the day, Obama celebrates the accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans at a White House reception. This community has criticized the president for what they see as foot-dragging on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and says states need not recognize gay marriages performed in another state — and the U.S. military’s Don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy.

The First Draft: On The Road Again

EGYPT/Now that Congress is back from its week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s time for the U.S. top brass to hit the road. President Barack Obama heads to the Middle East today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Honduras, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke promises a visit to Pakistan this week.

Closer to home, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill in advance of her confirmation hearings. Meantime, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faces questions at his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. McChrystal’s nominated to be the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

This might be an opportune time for travel. The Ipsos/Reuters poll indicates global consumer confidence is stabilizing, after dropping for 18 months.

The First Draft: the Supreme Court and the Spelling Bee

SPELLING BEE/KIDSWith Congress gone this week and President Barack Obama out of town for most of today, Washington turns to its two traditional inside-the-Beltway sporting events: handicapping a Supreme Court nominee’s chances of confirmation, and watching the nerve-wracking finals of the National Spelling Bee.

Sonia Sotomayor, picked by Obama on Tuesday, is already being praised in an ad by liberal groups and vilified as a racist by conservatives, including radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, whom the White House has tried to style as the de facto head of the Republican Party. Obama himself stumped for his choice on a Western swing yesterday to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The president returns to Washington for a late afternoon meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The First Draft: Obama campaigns again – for his court pick

OBAMA/President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail.

But this time he’s not trying to win himself a job …he is trying to win over support for his Supreme Court nominee,  Sonia Sotomayor.

Even though regular Americans — or the elite Democrats attending fundraisers — don’t get to vote for Supreme Court nominee, they can pressure their senators.

Sounding like he did while stumping for more than a year on the campaign trail, Obama spoke passionately about his choice of Sotomayor — the first Hispanic woman ever nominated to the high court — to Democrats at a fundraiser for Democratice Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas.