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Sotomayor hearings: Leahy opens Day 2 questioning

July 14, 2009 |  6:50 am


So what makes a good judge?

That’s was the opening question from Sen. Patrick Leahy to Sonia Sotomayor on the second day of the confirmation hearings into her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor said that a judge has to come to the process understanding the need to respect the Constitution — and understand that this respect is guided by a full appreciation of the “limited jurisdiction of courts” in the U.S. system of governance.

“That is the central part of judging,” Sotomayor said.

Sotomayor said her experience on the trial court and appellate court reinforced a key point: “The process of judging is the process of keeping an open mind.”

Also, a judge has to make a decision that “is limited to what the law says” and what the facts show, Sotomayor said.

Leahy, the committee chairman, is a Vermont Democrat whose role will be to shepherd her nomination through the committee. Referring to her prepared remarks delivered Monday, she said, that “statement went a long way to answer the critics and the naysayers.”

Today is Day 2 but might be called Round 1, given the tough questioning sure to come from Republican members of the committee. Leahy, perhaps unintentionally, alluded to this when he explained that each senator would get half an hour to question Sotomayor. He said the committee would have “30-minute rounds.”

-- Steve Padilla

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