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Sotomayor's confirmation hearings to begin in July

  • Story Highlights
  • "There's no reason to unduly delay consideration," Sen. Patrick Leahy says
  • Republican leaders have called for confirmation hearings in September
  • Sonia Sotomayor would be first Hispanic Supreme Court justice if confirmed
  • GOP Sen. Mel Martinez predicts Senate will confirm Sotomayor
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court on July 13, the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said Tuesday.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor makes her way around Capitol Hill on Monday on crutches after breaking her ankle.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor makes her way around Capitol Hill on Monday on crutches after breaking her ankle.

And a leading Republican, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, on Tuesday predicted the Senate will confirm Sotomayor.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Leahy said the July hearing date favored by President Obama would provide sufficient time for thorough examination of the federal appellate judge's record.

"It's going to allow several more weeks for committee members to prepare for the hearing ... and there's no reason to unduly delay consideration of this well-qualified nominee," Leahy said. Video Watch more on Sotomayor on a fast track »

Republican leaders have called for confirmation hearings in September.

Sotomayor is expected to win easy confirmation as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and the third woman to sit on the nation's highest court.

After a one-on-one meeting with Sotomayor, Martinez said, "I would expect that she would be confirmed with pretty good numbers."

Martinez stopped short of endorsing her nomination, saying he wants to wait until after her confirmation hearings are held.

But he had positive things to say about her personal and judicial background and said she would "fit in" well on the Supreme Court.

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Martinez, the only Hispanic Republican senator, said he is not concerned about Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comments that sparked controversy because he said there is no evidence that sentiment has influenced her judicial decisions. iReport.com: Is Sotomayor right for the Court?

"For someone who is of Latin background, personally, I understand what she is trying to say. Which is, the richness of her experience forms who she is. It forms who I am," Martinez said.

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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