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Washington senators praise Supreme Court nomination

WASHINGTON -- Calling her "unquestionably qualified," Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said Tuesday that in nominating Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court President Barack Obama picked someone who was an "unparalleled example of the true spirit and determination of the American dream."

In a statement, Murray lavished praise on the Hispanic federal appeals court judge, though she didn't come right out and endorse the nomination. Murray, as she has with previous Supreme Court nominees, said she wants to wait and listen before making a final decision.

"I will evaluate Judge Sotomayor's nomination based on the same standards I use for all judicial appointments," Murray said. "Is she ethical, honest and qualified? Will she be evenhanded, fair and independent and will she uphold our rights and liberties?

"I want to know that when an individual comes before the court, that he or she will receive a fair hearing and that justice will be rendered according to the law," Murray said.

Washington state's other senator, Democrat Maria Cantwell, also praised Sotomayor.

"With this nomination, President Obama has demonstrated the breadth and depth of our judicial bench," Cantwell said in a statement.

Cantwell said she was especially pleased Obama selected a woman and for the first time a Hispanic, to replace retiring Justice David Souter.

"The court will benefit from diversity and from the common touch that Justice Souter brought to his tenure," she said.

Neither Murray nor Cantwell serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will initially review the nomination. But both will be able to vote on the nomination when it comes to the Senate floor and both, in the past, have spent time reviewing the decisions of judicial nominees.

Murray noted Sotomayor was appointed to the federal bench by Republican President George H.W. Bush and to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

"Judge Sotomayor has been nominated to judicial positions by presidents of both parties because of her record of fairness, moderation and independence," Murray said. "And she has proven she can apply sophisticated legal doctrines to common sense, everyday application of the law."