WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was the role of a lifetime for comedian-turned-inquisitor Sen. Al Franken this week during Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination hearings.
The Senate's newest star seemed comfortable in front of the cameras, but less at ease with Senate procedure.
In one instance, Franken looked to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, to approve a request.
"I would ask for it to be entered into the record ... can I enter it into the record?" Franken asked. He was given the green light to go ahead.
Franken's national debut is also amusing his old peers on the comedy circuit.
"I just kept expecting 'Live from New York!'" said Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" this week.
(CNN) – Indiana Republican Dick Lugar Friday announced he intends to vote for Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court, becoming the first senator in his party to formally state support for President Obama's pick to the high court.
"I have listened to the testimony of Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee, carefully reviewed her public service record, and reviewed recommendations from Indiana constituents and colleagues here in the Senate," Lugar said in a statement.
"Judge Sotomayor is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and she has demonstrated a judicial temperament during her week-long nomination hearing. Judge Sotomayor has had a distinguished career of public service," he also said. "She is well regarded in the legal community and by her peers. I will vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."
While Sotomayor's confirmation appears all but certain, it remains unclear exactly how many Republicans will support the current appeals court judge when her nomination comes up for a vote on the floor.
In the Judiciary Committee, where Sotomayor will face the first vote on her nomination, at least two Republicans have suggested they will support her - Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah. That vote could come as early as next week.
– CNN's Evan Glass contributed to this report
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."