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She was the first nominee to really face scrutiny in the YouTube era, and video clips of her seeming to say appeals courts are where “policy is made” became an issue.

Republicans who voted against her said her rulings on gun and property rights and discrimination worried them, as did her writings on abortion, the death penalty and the role of a judge.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, painted a picture of what he called “Judge Sotomayor’s Court” where, he said, only certain groups got justice. He said others, such as the white New Haven, Conn., firefighters she ruled against in a discrimination case “didn’t make the cut” on her list of favored groups.

The Supreme Court overturned the firefighters decision this year - one of several decisions Judge Sotomayor was part of that her new colleagues have overturned.

During her confirmation hearing, Judge Sotomayor distanced herself from some of her writings, saying her record on the federal bench showed she was an impartial judge. Democratic senators said she will strike the right balance.

“We don’t have to guess what kind of judge she’ll be; she’s had more experience on the federal courts … than any nominee in decades,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. “This is an extraordinary nominee.”

Her confirmation was the latest installment of what has become among the most rancorous battles - yet for nearly two decades, or since Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination, the presidents’ choices have been approved fairly easily.

Despite failing to block Judge Sotomayor, conservative Republicans said they had achieved a victory for the future by securing her fealty to interpreting rather than making law from the bench.

“It will now be harder, I think, to nominate activist judges,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who took over as top Republican on the Judiciary Committee just as the court vacancy was created.

But Republican opposition could come with a price. Hispanic voters, many of whom have been reluctant to support Republicans, could view the opposition as a vote against them.

“I think that message is one that will be seriously viewed in the days ahead by the community,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat.

He said Judge Sotomayor’s nomination united Hispanics from all backgrounds.

This was the third confirmation for Judge Sotomayor, who was unanimously confirmed to the federal trial court and was elevated to the appeals court in 1998 on a 67-29 vote - almost the same tally as Thursday’s confirmation vote.

She will be sworn in by Chief Justice Roberts on Saturday in a private ceremony; there will be an official installation ceremony in September when the full court returns.