Graham Becomes 5th* Republican for Sotomayor

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When President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor made her rounds on Capitol Hill, one of her harshest critics was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who said after that first meeting that he was “deeply troubled” by her nomination. Something must have happened on the way to the hearings last week because on the first day Graham told Sotomayor that barring a meltdown she’d get confirmed and on the second day he told her he liked her personally.

Today on the Senate floor Graham announced his support for the appellate judge. “I do believe that elections have consequences and it’s not like we hid from the American people during the campaign that the Supreme Court selections are at stake,” Graham said. “While I’m not bound to vote against Judge Sotomayor, it would be the path of least political resistance for me. I choose to vote for Judge Sotomayor because I believe she is well qualified. We’re talking about one of the most qualified nominees to be selected for the Supreme Court in decades.”

Maybe he was just impressed with Sotomayor’s questionnaire and credentials. Maybe he thought she hit it out of the park in the hearings. And maybe Graham, who took some heat at home for his support in 2005 and 2006 of immigration reform, heard from Hispanic groups in South Carolina. Although Hispanics made up less than 4% of the state’s population in 2007, the demographic is growing faster in the Palmetto State than any other state.

*Apologies, the headline originally said 1st but there’s no way to cross out headline words. I’m told by the committee that he is the 1st committee Republican to support Sotomayor but the 5th Republican in the conference. Graham follows Snowe, Collins, Lugar and Martinez.