Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor got off to a running start on the first day of her confirmation hearing on Monday. "Unless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to get confirmed," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Given all we know about Judge Sotomayor so far, that is certainly the right outcome.
In her opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Sotomayor reaffirmed her fidelity to the rule of law and her understanding that the judiciary is not a legislature by another name. "In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
This is standard boilerplate language for any judicial candidate, but it was important for her to get it on the record because she has unfairly been branded a "judicial activist" by critics. The 3,000-case record she has compiled shows her to be in the judicial mainstream, sometimes explicitly lauding "judicial restraint" and taking issue with colleagues whom she believed were legislating from the bench.
Then there is the question of "empathy," which is sure to come up again and again the next few days as senators refer to President Obama's statement – before he named Judge Sotomayor – that he wanted a person of empathy on the high court.
Again, the record shows Judge Sotomayor has not allowed her personal feelings to get in the way of her rulings.
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