WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former GOP Rep. Pat Toomey, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter for his Senate seat in 2010, came to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's defense on Tuesday, saying the Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair chance.
Toomey, a conservative, said he believed that Democrats had a "knee-jerk opposition" to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito during their confirmation hearings, but that Republicans shouldn't oppose Sotomayor's nomination simply based on partisanship.
"Just as it was wrong for liberal Democrats to adopt a knee-jerk opposition to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, it would be equally wrong for Republicans to oppose Judge Sotomayor on a partisan basis," Toomey said in a statement. "Judge Sotomayor deserves a fair hearing. If that hearing proves her to be of sound judicial temperament with the requisite knowledge of and respect for the Constitution, then she should be confirmed."
Toomey said over the past two decades, the process of confirming Supreme Court justices has become a "political football," and criticized Specter for his role during that era.
"Arlen Specter has played those political games more aggressively than most, arguing against Judge Bork and for Justice Thomas, depending on Specter's calculation of his own political needs," Toomey said. "That approach is bad for our country."