Senators Duke It Out at Sotomayor Hearing

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 13, 2009 9:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – Sonia Sotomayor has wrapped up the first session of what promises to be a successful but contentious confirmation process. Patrick Leahy opened today's hearing by expressing hope Sotomayor would be spared racial attacks. “She has been a judge for all Americans,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chair said. “She understands there's not one law for one race or another. There's only one law." But some Republicans came out swinging, objecting to judicial activism, empathy in judges, and the infamous "wise Latina" comment.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican, set the tone, attacking Sotomayor for her vote in the firefighters' affirmative action case. "Call it empathy, call it prejudice, but whatever it is, it is not law," he said. "In truth, it is more akin to politics. And politics has no place in the courtroom.” Others, like Orrin Hatch and Lindsay Graham, sounded unsure—though Graham's frankness appeared to sit well with the nominee. "Unless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to be confirmed," he said.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy awaits the start of a committee hearing in this June 25, 2009 file photo.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy awaits the start of a committee hearing in this June 25, 2009 file photo.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor is escorted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy to her seat at the committee's confirmation hearing.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor is escorted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy to her seat at the committee's confirmation hearing.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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