By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 6, 2009 ( – The Senate this afternoon voted 68-31 to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court justice. 

Sotomayor, a 55-year-old first Hispanic judge, replaces Judge David Souter, who retired this year.  Both Souter and Sotomayor are pro-abortion. 

The swearing-in ceremony is tentatively expected to take place Saturday, although no official announcement has been made.  Sotomayor will then take her place on the court in early September. 

Sotomayor won confirmation after about 18 hours of Senate discussions over the past week, which found many Republican lawmakers lining up against the nominee in stated opposition to her activist judicial philosophy and narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment. 

Little attention was paid to Sotomayor's commitment to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America through all nine months of pregnancy.  In confirmation hearings last month, Sotomayor once referred to abortion as a “right” and consistently deferred to the Roe v. Wade decision as “settled law,” but expressed a lesser degree of loyalty to the Supreme Court's ban on partial-birth abortion.

Only weeks prior to the vote, NARAL joined Planned Parenthood in throwing its support behind Sotomayor.

“As evidenced from the declining levels of support for President Obama and Judge Sotomayor, even among Hispanics, it was for good reason no doubt that Senate Democrat leadership rushed hearings and hid the Sotomayor confirmation with a negligible amount of scheduled floor time not befitting a Supreme Court nomination,” commented Manuel Miranda, the former Republican counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Himself a Latino, Miranda now chairs the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of 150 conservative leaders. The conference had issued a letter to senators in June urging them not to rush the confirmation process.

Despite the success of the nomination, Miranda said conservatives could take pride in the 31 Republicans who voted against the nomination. 

He called the show of GOP resolve “a far departure from the overwhelming support that Republicans gave to President Clinton's two, arguably, far-more-objectionable nominees, Judges Ginsburg and Breyer, just one decade ago.”

See related coverage:

McCain Says No to Sotomayor as Senate Debate Opens 

Senate Judiciary Committee Supports Sotomayor 13-6 

NARAL Officially Backs Sotomayor 

Sotomayor Calls Abortion a “Right” at Final Hearing