WASHINGTON (CNN) - What the country could easily see this week was a major success story for the Obama White House: A confirmation drama featuring Judge Sonia Sotomayor that left even Republican critics predicting an easy path to confirmation.
But just as Sotomayor was making major advances, a bigger initiative from President Obama, health care reform, was dealt a bruising body blow.
Douglas Elmendorf, chief of the Congressional Budget Office, said this of the leading Democratic health care proposals in the House and Senate: "In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount and, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs."
Translation: The bills, as they stand, do not meet the president's promise to reduce the long-term drain of health care spending on the federal budget.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican National Committee and Second Amendment advocates came down hard on Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday for not directly answering a question on whether or not Americans have a right to bear arms.
More than seven weeks after President Obama named her as his Supreme Court pick, and nearly a week into her confirmation hearings, the National Rifle Association issued an official statement Thursday opposing her nomination.
The announcement came the same day the RNC released a new Web video showing an exchange between Sotomayor and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn over the "right to self-defense." Sotomayor told the Oklahoma senator that she didn't know if "that legal question has been ever presented" and called it an "abstract question."
"Judge Sotomayor, The Right To Bear Arms Isn't An Abstract Question," reads the screen in the video. "Do You Believe That Americans Have A Right To Bear Arms? Stop Evading, And Start Answering The Question."
Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association said Sotomayor has a "hostile view of the Second Amendment and the fundamental right of self-defense."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Haven, Connecticut, firefighter Frank Ricci - the lead plaintiff in perhaps the most controversial case involving Judge Sonia Sotomayor - said Thursday that Sotomayor's rejection of his reverse discrimination claim had undermined the concept of a merit-based civil service system.
Ricci was one of a group of 20 mostly white firefighters who sued the city of New Haven after the city threw out the results of a 2003 firefighter promotion exam because almost no minorities qualified for promotions.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals - including Sotomayor - backed the city in the 2008 case Ricci v. DeStefano. The ruling of the Circuit Court was overturned in June by a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The "belief that citizens should be reduced to racial statistics is flawed," Ricci told the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"It only divides people who don't wish to be divided along racial lines. The very reason we have civil service rules is to root out politics, discrimination, and nepotism. Our case demonstrates that these ills will exist if the rules of merit and the law are not followed."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The National Rifle Association announced Thursday that it opposes Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We believe any individual who does not agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less the highest court in the land," said a joint statement by Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president, and Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Reform.
Opposition to Sotomayor by the powerful gun lobby reflects conservative unease with President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, but is considered unlikely to prevent her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday, Sotomayor strongly rejected a Republican senator's contention that she had pre-judged the issue of gun control, insisting at her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that wasn't true.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy says he plans to put a confirmation vote for Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the committee calendar this coming Tuesday.
However, committee rules allow any one senator to delay consideration of any nomination for one week, and the committee's ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions, suggested to CNN that a week's delay is likely.
"That would be only four days after the end of the hearings, that would be really fast," Sessions told CNN, noting that this is the "U.S. Supreme Court."
Sessions emphasized that he has no interest in delaying the process, but suggested holding a vote next week would be too soon.
Leahy told CNN the ultimate Democratic goal is to hold a full Senate vote before the August recess, and said he is confident that will happen.
Sessions said he has no plans for a filibuster.
"A nominee is entitled to an up-or-down vote," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court now seems virtually guaranteed to move on a fast-track in the U.S. Senate, as a top Republican told senators that he opposes a filibuster and expects a final vote on Sotomayor in the next three weeks.
Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, is his party's ranking member on Judiciary Committee.
Thursday morning, as the committee entered its third round of questions for Sotomayor, he told the New York judge that he will oppose any effort to filibuster or block her nomination and that he does not expect Republicans to mount one.
He then said, "I look forward to you getting that vote before we recess in August."
The words immediately sparked murmurs in the hearing room. For weeks, Sessions and other Republicans have been vocal in expressing concerns about any vote before the August recess.
The Democratic caucus now has 60 votes in the Senate and could override a filibuster move if they united, but many questioned if Republicans would try to push back the Sotomayor vote regardless.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sonia Sotomayor might be pushing her likely future colleagues to work harder.
Asked Thursday by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, if the Supreme Court should increase its caseload, the nominee told her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that it appeared the docket could be increased.
"It does appear that the Supreme Court docket has lessened over time," Sotomayor said on the fourth day of the committee's confirmation hearing. "Because of that, it does appear it has the capacity to take on more cases."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A GOP senator told Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor Thursday some of her speeches "bug the hell out of me" but conceded most of her rulings were "generally mainstream."
The expression of frustration followed by renewed questions aimed at getting Sotomayor to reveal more about her personal views was again the hallmark of Republican questioning in the fourth day of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings.
"You've said some things that have bugged the hell out of me," said South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"Your speeches are disturbing, particularly to conservatives. ... Those speeches to me suggested gender and racial affiliations in a way that a lot of us wonder, will you take that line of thinking to the Supreme Court in these cases of first precedent."