WASHINGTON — When Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in today to the Supreme Court, she'll be able to claim two firsts: first Hispanic justice and first high court member to have her oath-taking made available to TV cameras.
Sotomayor, who will be sworn in twice by Chief Justice John Roberts, will repeat one oath as prescribed by the Constitution in a private ceremony at the high court. It will be open only to members of Sotomayor's family.
Then Roberts will administer a second oath, taken by judges, with the new justice's family and friends and reporters present. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the ceremony apparently will be the first one open to television cameras in the court's history.
Sotomayor is the first Democratic nominee in 15 years. She becomes the nation's 111th justice — and just the third woman — in the court's history. She will appear next week at the White House with President Barack Obama, who chose her in May to replace retiring Justice David Souter.
Judges nominated: Obama on Friday named four new federal judges for California, three of them Asian-Americans, who have long been underrepresented on the federal bench. The appointments will be brought before the Senate for confirmation after the summer recess. U.S. Magistrate Judges Edward Chen and Richard Seeborg were named to the Northern District bench in San Francisco, where both have served since 2001. Dolly Gee, managing partner of Los Angeles law firm Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn H. Nguyen were nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Central District in Los Angeles.
Clunker law: The president signed into law Friday a measure tripling the budget of the $1 billion "cash for clunkers" program. Through Friday, $1.03 billion had been spent on the program, accounting for the sale of 245,384 new vehicles. Administration officials estimate the new money will last into Labor Day and could prompt an additional 500,000 vehicle sales.
Detainee photos: The Obama administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to block the release of disturbing pictures of detainee abuse on grounds that their disclosure could incite violence in Afghanistan and Iraq and endanger U.S. troops there. The photos were ordered released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Bush administration had also fought their release, and lost.
Health chief: The Senate on Friday confirmed Dr. Francis Collins, a scientist who led the Human Genome Project, as director of the National Institutes of Health. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, but may be more widely known for his bestselling 2007 book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
Palin blasts health plan: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin criticized Democrats' health care reform plan on her Facebook page Friday. "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote. An e-mail sent to Palin's spokeswoman to confirm authorship was not immediately returned Friday.