Sotomayor on the Hill for day two

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(AP Photo/Steven Crowley, Pool)

High passion was on display outside the Senate building where the hearing is taking place. Inside, Judge Sonia Sotomayor listened and summed up her legal bottom line, “It’s simple. Fidelity to the law.”

Senators praised her patience through opening statements.

“I give Judge Sotomayor an “A” for listening to that,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions.

They anticipated today’s back-and-forth. Sen. Ben Cardin said, “Her interaction with Senators starting tomorrow will be an extremely important part of process.”

Questions could touch on hot button legal issues like gun rights, same-sex marriage and racial justice.

Critics point to Sotomayor’s comment that a wise Latina would reach a better judgment than a white male, and worry her background could bring bias.

Said Sessions, “Call it empathy, call it prejudice or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it’s not law.”

The daughter of Puerto Rican parents, her mother behind her in the hearing, Sotomayor lived in public housing in the Bronx as a girl. She said her background helps her grasp a case but not decide it.

“My personal and professional experiences help me to listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case,” said Sotomayor.

Democrats trumpeted her years as a lawyer and a judge.

“A brilliant legal and judicial career,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

An influential Republican offered a prediction. “Unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re going to get confirmed. And I don’t think you will,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Anti-abortion protesters interrupted the hearing several times. Strong feelings and high stakes are behind this lifetime appointment.