Continued from page 1

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences,” Judge Sotomayor said then, “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male, who hasn’t lived that life.”

“She has advocated a view that suggests that your personal experiences, even prejudices - she uses that word - it’s expected that they would influence a decision you make, which is a blow, I think, at the very ideal of American justice,” Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I am really flabbergasted by the depth and consistency of her philosophical critique of the ideal of impartial justice.”

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, shrugged off Mr. Sessions’ concerns as “grasping at straws.”

“I’ve asked her about her speeches,” he said alongside Mr. Sessions on “Face the Nation.” “And she said ultimately and completely, the law controls. And as a judge, she’s shown over and over again that ultimately and completely, the law controls. Anything else is nitpicking.”

Mr. Leahy stressed that Judge Sotomayor “has been a judge longer than anybody who’s gone on the Supreme Court in almost 100 years.”

Republicans also raised concerns about Judge Sotomayor’s decision in the case of a group of white firefighters who said they were improperly denied a promotion because of race. The Supreme Court recently overturned her order, siding with the New Haven, Conn., firefighters.

More than 30 witnesses, including Judge Sotomayor, are expected to testify. Republicans have given one of their 14 slots to one of the white firefighters in the case.