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 qualified.
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.