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Sessions Impressed, but Not Sold on Sotomayor

Senate Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Tuesday that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has not yet convinced him she will apply the law equally to all people, even as he praised her experience and qualifications for the post.Speaking to reporters following his first meeting with Sotomayor on her nomination, Sessions said the federal appeals jurist has excellent qualifications for the high court, noting she has worked in all levels of the judicial system. “I think that is a good background for any judge. ... I’m very impressed with her knowledge, experience and energy level. I was delighted to talk to her,” Sessions said.Although Sessions declined to discuss specifics of his conversation with Sotomayor, who spent Tuesday meeting with top Republican and Democratic Senators, he said they touched on the broad topic of whether personal experience should affect how a judge views the law.Asked whether he felt Sotomayor had quelled concerns that she may bias her rulings in favor of the poor, women and minorities, Sessions said he would continue to have discussions with the court hopeful.“I don’t think I exhausted that question at all,” Sessions said. The Alabama Republican did acknowledge that Sotomayor said judges should “ultimately and completely” follow the law, but he noted that such an answer still leaves the definition of the law up to the individual judge. “The question is, ‘What is the law?’” Sessions noted.Sessions said he hopes Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would reconsider his refusal to hold Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings in September, arguing that to hold them in July as now appears likely would be rushing the process. Leahy on Tuesday called waiting until September for hearings “irresponsible” because it would simply give outside organizations more time to unfairly attack the nominee. Leahy also doesn’t want Sotomayor to have to wait to respond to her critics.But Sessions said: “I don’t think it would be irresponsible, and I would urge the chairman to keep an open mind on that. ... I don’t think it’s good to rush this.” Alexander Comisar contributed to this report.

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