Senate judiciary committee members flush with campaign cash from lawyers

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As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings today on Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, almost all of the dozen Democrats and seven Republicans who sit on the Senate’s judiciary panel share one thing in common: large sums of campaign cash received from the very lawyers and law firms whose work is so shaped by the high court’s decisions.

According to a PaperTrail analysis of numbers made available by the Center for Responsive Politics, the 19 Senators have taken at least $10 million in campaign contributions from donors and political action committees identified as lawyers or law firms since the beginning of 2005. This total does not include contributions to Senator Al Franken (a Minnesota Democrat), who joined the Senate and the committee only days ago, and thus has not yet been included in their totals, nor Senator Edward Kaufman (a Delaware Democrat), who was appointed to fill the unexpired Senate term of Vice President Joe Biden and has raised no campaign money.

The top recipients were Democratic Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin of Illinois, who received $2,017,881 from the legal sector over that time, and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who got $1,166,508. The list:

Whether they vote for or against Sotomayor’s confirmation, the panel will have over 10,000,000 considerations in mind.

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