WASHINGTON (CNN) – The full Senate is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday on the nomination of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
At least five Republican senators have announced their intention to support Sotomayor, making confirmation by the Democratic-controlled Senate a virtual certainty.
A final confirmation vote is expected by Thursday.
Sotomayor, 55, is President Barack Obama's first nominee to the nation's highest court. She would be 111th person to sit on the Supreme Court, and the third woman justice.
Last week, Sotomayor's nomination cleared a sharply polarized Senate Judiciary Committee, with one Republican joining the panel's Democrats in sending the nomination to the full Senate on a 13-6 vote.
Democrats have praised Sotomayor's 17-year record as a federal judge and her made-in-America story as a minority woman who rose to success through hard work and opportunity.
Republicans, however, have questioned her judicial neutrality, complaining about speeches in which she made controversial statements, including her hope that a "wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences" would reach a better conclusion than a white man "who hasn't lived that life."