Sonia Sotomayor started her congressional confirmation hearings earlier this week, and hot-button issues such as gun rights and her alleged activism have dominated the proceedings so far.
The Republicans have pressed Sotomoyor to explain her "wise Latina" remark that had been interpreted by some as suggesting Latinos with a certain background had better judgment than white people who have not lived those experiences.
Sotomayor stated that it was an "unfortunate rhetorical flourish," and sought to clarify she does not believe that any "ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment."
The panel also asked questions about her judicial philosophy, given her 2008 opinion supporting the city of New Haven’s decision to annul the results of a firefighter promotion exam because almost no minorities qualified. The Supreme Court recently overturned that decision.
In response, the nominee vowed to base her rulings on law, rather than racial considerations and emphasized her record of 17 years as a judge demonstrates her commitment to applying the law rather than making it.
With regards to gun rights, Sotomayor said she accepted a Supreme Court ruling from last year guaranteeing an individual’s right to own guns and said she would keep "an open mind" on the issue.
The Senate vote on the nomination will likely take place before the end of July, and if confirmed Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest court.