The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court began two months ago with a debate over the impact of judges' personal biases. It's ending the same way.
Senators focused on the issue this morning as they began discussing Sotomayor's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing two weeks ago on the nomination. The committee is expected to endorse Sotomayor later this morning, sending the nomination to the full Senate for a vote likely next week.
Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called Sotomayor a "restrained, fair and impartial judge" — echoing comments he has made since May.
"Ironically, the few decisions for which she's been criticized are cases in which she did not — did not — reach out to change the law or defy judicial precedent; in other words, cases in which she refused to make law from the bench," Leahy said in his opening statement. "In her 17 years on the bench, there is not one example, let alone a pattern, of her ruling based on bias or prejudice or sympathy."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee's top Republican, said he wasn't convinced. He cited Sotomayor's speeches on the question of judges' personal biases, and he said her testimony this month "did not have the clarity and the compelling nature" to overcome her prior words.
"I don't think anyone should be on any court in America who is not deeply committed to the ideal of American justice — and that is that they can set aside their personal biases and prejudices," said Sessions, who announced his opposition Monday.
Added Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): "I'm not sure that Judge Sotomayor is willing to wear the judicial blindfold."