U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is facing tough questioning
from Republican senators Tuesday, the second day of her confirmation
Sotomayor, who is widely expected to be confirmed as the first Hispanic
Supreme Court justice, has sought to ease Republican concerns about her
judicial philosophy, saying the job of a judge is to follow the law --
not make it.
She says she does not think "any racial or ethnic group has an
advantage in sound judgment," when asked about her comment years ago
that a "wise Latina" might make better decisions than a white man
without the same life experiences.
She told the Senate Judiciary Committee she was trying to inspire the group she was talking to at the time.
The nominee said in her 17 years as a federal judge, at no point has
she allowed her personal views, sympathies or prejudices to influence a
case. She said she has followed the law in every case.
Sotomayor said life experiences help a person to understand and listen, but that the law must always dictate the result.
She was also questioned about her ruling, as part of a three-judge
panel, against 20 firefighters -- most in the group who were white --
who said they were the victims of discrimination. The Supreme Court
recently overturned that ruling. She said the case was not about quotas
or affirmative action, but against an exam the firefighters took for a
promotion. The city threw out the test results after too few minorities
The Supreme Court nominee also said she accepted the high court's
ruling last year affirming an individual's right to own guns as
guaranteed by the Constitution. On abortion rights, Sotomayor says she
considers the issue "settled" precedence.
Sotomayor, the child of Puerto Rican parents, went from a humble
upbringing in New York public housing to graduate at the top of two
prestigious American universities -- Princeton and Yale. With the
approval from the full Senate, the 55-year-old would become the third
woman to sit on the nine-member panel of the highest U.S. court.
Justices confirmed to the Supreme Court serve for life.