Washington (AP) - Republican Sen. John Cornyn, the head of his party's Senate campaign arm, said Friday he'll vote against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, siding with GOP leaders and conservatives who are lining up against President Barack Obama's nominee to be the first Hispanic justice.
The Texas Republican acknowledged that his decision to oppose Sotomayor could carry political risks - one-third of his constituents are Hispanic - and said he was announcing it with "regret and some sadness."
"Voting to confirm a judge - this judge or any judge - despite doubts would certainly be the politically expedient thing to do, but I don't believe it would be the right thing to do," said Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, who said he came away from Sotomayor's confirmation hearings still wondering, "Who is the real Judge Sonia Sotomayor?"
Cornyn is a vivid example of Republicans' dilemma in deciding how to vote on the 55-year-old appeals court judge, who is virtually guaranteed confirmation by early August. Like other GOP leaders, he's concerned with placating a conservative base that's vehemently opposed to Obama's nominee, but he's one of many Republicans who risks undercutting himself with Hispanic voters, a growing part of the electorate, by doing so.
His announcement came as another Republican on the Judiciary panel, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, announced he would also vote against Sotomayor, saying he disagrees with her judicial philosophy.
Hatch was one of seven current GOP senators who voted for Sotomayor in 1998 when she was confirmed for a seat on New York's 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. That group is splitting over confirming her to the nation's highest court. Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana are among those who have said they'll back Sotomayor, while Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Bob Bennett of Utah, like Hatch, say they'll oppose her this time around. Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who also voted to confirm Sotomayor previously, has not said what he will do this time.
Cornyn said he believes "the stakes are too high" for him to support a nominee who might approach important constitutional issues like gun and property rights "from a liberal, activist perspective."
Still, he acknowledged that Sotomayor - who has solid backing from majority Democrats and a handful of GOP supporters - would almost certainly join the bench. In a message that seemed tailored to tamp down on any potential backlash from Hispanic voters for his opposition, Cornyn said he wishes her well.
"I know she will be an inspiration to many young people in the Hispanic community and beyond," he said.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn, the head of his party's Senate campaign arm, said Friday he'll vote against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, siding with GOP leaders and conservatives who are lining up against President Barack Obama's nominee to be the