Top Republican rips Democrats for Sotomayor ‘rush’

WASHINGTON — The top Senate Republican accused Democrats today of moving too hastily on Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, warning that their decision would have unspecified “consequences.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Democrats for scheduling mid-July hearings for the federal appeals judge.

“They want the shortest timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory,” McConnell said. “This violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee chairman, announced Tuesday that hearings would open July 13. That’s 48 days after President Barack Obama named Sotomayor for the high court.

It took at least a week more than that to begin hearings on each of the last three justices to be confirmed, but almost two weeks less for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed in 1993.

Ginsburg had been a federal appeals court judge for 13 years when she was nominated; Sotomayor has been on the federal bench for almost 17 years.

McConnell did not say what the GOP is prepared to do, if anything, to try slow the timetable. GOP senators say Sotomayor left key documents out of her response to a questionnaire on her background, writings and rulings. They say that’s more evidence that more time is needed.

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