WASHINGTON - The White House contacted Sonia Sotomayor about replacing Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter four days before he publicly announced he was leaving, according to a filing with the Senate yesterday.
The filing to the Senate Judiciary Committee was part of an extensive collection of opinions, financial disclosures, and other documents on the Supreme Court nominee delivered in response to a questionnaire from the panel.
The White House bragged that the information was delivered faster than for any Supreme Court nominee in recent history.
The documents reveal that Sotomayor was contacted by the White House on April 27. Souter made his departure public on May 1.
Sotomayor, 54, said she was first contacted by White House counsel Gregory Craig, and has had nearly daily contact with White House staff since then. She interviewed in person with President Obama on May 21 and by telephone with Vice President Biden on May 24, and was announced as Obama's choice May 26.
Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, said she neither was asked nor volunteered how she would vote on any issue that might come before the high court.
The documents catalogue all of Sotomayor's decisions in 17 years as a federal judge, each speech she has given and award she has received, and every group of which she has been a member.
Sotomayor listed a net worth of $740,000, consisting primarily of equity in a $1 million condo in New York's Greenwich Village. She reported having $32,000 in cash and bank accounts, and personal property worth $108,000. She reported owning no stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other non-real estate investments.
Under liabilities, she listed a $381,000 mortgage, $15,000 in credit-card bills, and a $15,000 dentist's bill.
Previous financial disclosure reports showed her with an annual income of about $200,000.
As far as community service, Sotomayor said judges were limited in what they may do, but she outlined that she regularly judges moot court competitions, frequently speaks about being a female judge at "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" events, and once a year hosts a workshop for inner-city children.
The children conduct a mock trial of Goldilocks, "who stands charged with third-degree burglary with intent to commit larceny."
Early in the confirmation battle, Sotomayor's speeches have proven more controversial than her judicial opinions, and reporters and committee staff have a large number of them, along with interviews, to explore - both in English and Spanish. There are more than 60 speeches.
Craig wrote on the White House blog that the "historically fast completion of the exhaustive questions" should lead to her swift consideration by the Senate and allow her to be on the court by September to help choose the court's cases for the next term.
He noted that Sotomayor turned in her questionnaire just nine days after Obama nominated her, compared with 13 days for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., 15 days for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and 30 days for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and only the third woman to serve on the court.
She returned to Capitol Hill yesterday for a third day of individual visits with senators. By week's end, she will have met with more than one-quarter of the Senate, and all but a few members of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D., Vt.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, wants hearings to begin next month, with the goal of holding a confirmation vote before Congress leaves in early August for a monthlong summer vacation.
He is negotiating with the top Republican on the committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who says he would rather go slower in delving into Sotomayor's voluminous record, with hearings set for September.