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Obama hails Sotomayor confirmation

From NBC's Athena Jones

President Obama today thanked the Senate for confirming Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, calling it a "wonderful day" for America.

The Bronx-born Sotomayor, who was approved by a 68-31 vote, will become the court's first Hispanic justice when she is sworn in Saturday morning by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. She was spending the day in New York, according to the White House, and was not present for the president's comments.

In brief remarks delivered just moments after the vote, Obama declared himself "very happy" with the 68 votes Sotomayor received and said he was filled with pride at this achievement.

Video: President Obama comments on the Senate's vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"With this historic vote," he said, "the Senate has affirmed that Judge Sotomayor has the intellect, the temperament, the history, the integrity and the independence of mind to ably serve on our nation's highest court."

The Senate's role in confirming judges helped ensure that equal justice under the law was not just a phrase inscribed above the courthouse door, but a description of what happens inside the courtroom each day, the president said.

"These core American ideals -- justice, equality, and opportunity -- are the very ideals that have made Judge Sotomayor's own uniquely American journey possible," he continued. "They're ideals she's fought for throughout her career, and the ideals the Senate has upheld today in breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union."

Obama echoed comments made earlier in the day by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who said the administration wanted to commend Democrats and Republicans for getting her confirmed quickly so that should could begin participating in the Court's activities in September and do the work necessary before the term begins.

The president thanked the Senate Judiciary Committee for giving Sotomayor a "thorough and civil hearing" over the past 10 weeks, singling out committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy and ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions for special thanks.