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Maybe more so than her judicial rulings, Judge Sotomayor can expect to be asked about her temperament as a judge and about her remarks during speeches and conferences.

The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary lists a series of quotes from lawyers praising her legal ability, but she also drew barbs from lawyers who said she is abusive in the courtroom: “She really lacks judicial temperament,” one lawyer told the publication.

In 2002, in a speech in California, Judge Sotomayor said race or sex does affect a judge’s rulings, and said because of that, a minority woman is a better decider than a white man: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasnt lived that life.”

Three years later, at a panel discussion at Duke Law School, she seemed to endorse judicial activism on the appeals courts, telling students considering clerkships: “Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know - I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know.”

A clip of the Duke comment on YouTube has been widely accessed by conservative activists.

Mr. Gibbs said the YouTube clip does not do justice to the context of Judge Sotomayor’s comments, and said her record on the courts will be her answer to critics.

“The president is very convinced that people will look at the full context of this and not rely on, as I said, a small, short, out-of-context YouTube clip, and more importantly look at the basis of her entire record. I think you come to a broader understanding of who she is and what she meant,” Mr. Gibbs said.

• Kara Rowland and Tom LoBianco contributed to this report.