Republicans promise quick vote on Sotomayor

(AP) - Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor movedcloser to becoming the first Hispanic justice Thursday, concludingU.S. Senate hearings with the promise of a quick confirmation votefrom Republican critics and prodding from a Democrat to challengethe high court's conservative wing.

Her elevation all but assured, Sotomayor drew praise even fromRepublican skeptics who had questioned her ability to beimpartial, after days spent sidestepping questions on hot-buttonissues like guns and abortion rights and defending speeches thathave been faulted as showing bias.

"I look forward to you getting that vote before we recess inAugust," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the SenateJudiciary Committee, not long before Sotomayor concluded threegrueling days of nationally televised question-and-answer rounds inthe panel's witness chair.

Sessions, who said he still had his own "serious concerns"about Sotomayor, said he wouldn't support any attempt to block afinal vote on confirmation and did not foresee any other Republicandoing so. He said he expected a one-week delay before the Judiciarypanel weighs in, pushing the panel's vote to month's end.

Sotomayor, the 55-year-old federal appeals court judge who isPresident Barack Obama's first high court nominee, has overwhelmingif not unanimous support among the Senate's 60 Democrats.

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