The Senate today confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The vote was 68 to 31, with 9 Republicans joining 57 Democrats and two Independents in voting for the federal appeals court judge. Ailing Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the 91-year-old Democrat of West Virginia, was helped to the Senate floor in a wheelchair to cast his yes vote. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had expressed his support for Sotomayor but was not present for the vote because of his battle with brain cancer.
“Judge Sotomayor understands people like Linda Brown,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said today in closing the three days of floor debate. It was a reference to the young African-American student at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Sotomayor, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, succeeds Justice David H. Souter, who retired in June after 19 terms on the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor will likely be sworn in within days in a White House ceremony, then have a more formal investiture at the court early this fall. UPDATE: CNN reports that the White House ceremony will be Saturday at 11 a.m.
The court has a special early argument session on Sept. 9 in a campaign finance case before formally opening its next term on the first Monday in October.
And while the 2008-09 term ended up with several major education decisions, there are currently no cases directly involving schools or students on the court’s docket for next term. But there are several education appeals awaiting review by the justices.
A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.