Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday paid her first Capitol Hill visits to key senators who will be voting on her confirmation. She found Democrats enthusiastic and Republicans wary and somewhat skeptical. Sotomayor, 54, spent the day in private conversations with senators that lasted about half an hour each. Times wires
"I don't think she's vulnerable at all,' said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Sotomayor's confirmation "is just a done deal because she's a woman and a Hispanic," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., one of her critics.
"I'm very impressed with her knowledge, her experience, her energy level," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who still urged slow hearings.
The biggest issue
Republicans are questioning how she would apply the law, noting her remark in 2001 that she hoped her decisions as a "wise Latina" would be better than those of a white male who hadn't had the same experiences.
Leahy asked her what she meant by her 2001 comment and said the judge told him: "Of course one's life experience shapes who you are, but … as a judge, you follow the law."
As Sotomayor rushed from one meeting to another on Capitol Hill — 10 in all — she stayed nearly silent in public. The White House typically instructs nominees to say nothing except to senators. Sotomayor ignored even the most innocuous questions, refusing to issue even a thumbs-up when asked how she was feeling on her big day.
Sotomayor's name has been on a lot of people's lips since her nomination, but people have been saying it differently. For the record, she pronounces it soh-toh-my-YOR' — accent on the final syllable. She describes herself as a Nuyorican, a term that generally refers to a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent.
1/3 Roughly one-third of Americans have a favorable view of Sotomayor, while 18 percent view her unfavorably, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Half of those polled say she should be confirmed; 22 percent oppose her confirmation.