[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.specter0713.gi.jpg caption="Arlen Specter offered praise for Sonia Sotomayor Monday during the first day of her confirmation hearing."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, appeared to offer strong praise for the pick of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Monday, saying that the choice of a Latina judge represents a long-overdue nod to America's growing diversity.
It was wrong for the country to wait until 1967 to put the first African-American, Thurgood Marshall, on the high court, Specter said. It was also wrong to wait until 1981 to put the first woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, on the court.
Specter made his remarks during the first day of Sotomayor's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.
Specter, a former chairman of the committee, switched from the Republican to the Democratic party earlier this year. A number of liberal critics have expressed concern that he will not be a reliable Democratic vote.