Politics Digest: South Carolina GOP Censures Sanford
State Party Censures Sanford as 'Last Word'
The South Carolina Republican Party voted late Monday night to censure Gov. Mark Sanford for disappearing from the state to visit a mistress in Argentina, but the party did not call for his resignation, an indication that the embattled Republican governor may be able to hold on to power for the remaining 18 months of his term.
The party's leaders were divided during a closed-door, four-hour meeting Monday. Twenty-two members voted to censure Sanford, 10 called for his resignation, and nine supported the governor, according to a party official. The censure resolution states that a "formal admonishment" is necessary and that "barring further revelations" it will be the party's "last word on the matter."
"Today has brought a large measure of resolution to a sad chapter in our state party's history," state party chairman Karen Floyd said in a statement. "Republicans came together to speak with a unified voice, and now is the time for healing."
Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer told reporters Monday night that "the governor fully appreciates the party's position and he intends to work diligently to earn back its trust."
The party's reprimand vote comes nearly two weeks after Sanford returned from a secretive trip to Argentina and admitted his affair.
-- Philip Rucker
Bar Association Gives Nominee Highest Vote
The American Bar Association, a leading but sometimes controversial voice in evaluating the nation's judiciary, yesterday gave Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor its highest rating.
In a letter to White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, the ABA said its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary had unanimously concluded that Sotomayor is "well qualified" to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. The one-paragraph letter did not spell out the ABA's criteria, but the organization said it considers the integrity, professional competence and "judicial temperament" of nominees but not their judicial philosophy or ideology.
President George W. Bush caused a stir among congressional Democrats and liberal organizations in 2001 when he discontinued a half-century tradition in which presidents relied on the ABA for advice on potential candidates for federal judgeships. The group had provided direct advice to the White House since 1952.
President Obama recently restored the ABA's pre-nomination advisory role.
The ABA gave the same top rankings to the Bush Supreme Court nominees who were eventually confirmed: John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice, and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
-- Jerry Markon