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A Confirmation Conversion?

2:59 PM, Jul 13, 2009 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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Key passages from the judge's opening statement:

"Throughout my seventeen years on the bench, I have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. Those decisions have not been made to serve the interests of any one litigant, but always to serve the larger interest of impartial justice."

And

"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law- it is to apply the law. . . . In each [of my cases as a federal judge] I have applied the law to the facts at hand. . . . My personal and professional experiences help me listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case."

So: She's for impartial justice, her judicial philosophy is to stick to the law, which a judge is not to make but to apply to the facts at hand. Lex rex, or, as she put it, "the law always command[s] the result in every case."

Was she channeling John Roberts? Don't think so.

The question emerging from Sotomayor's opening statement is whether Republicans will press the judge to explain exactly what she means by "law" and "the rule of law," and, relatedly, just how she goes about interpreting the Constitution and laws of Congress. If Republicans fail to do this, there will be little point to this proceeding.