In the first round of questioning, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, offered his queries to Judge Sotomayor in a kindly, grandfatherly manner, even apologizing for interrupting at one point. From the respectful back-and-forth, some Democrats hoped he might be a possible crossover vote for Sotomayor.
But in his second round of questioning, the tone differed. Grassley began by focusing on cases that deal with the definition of marriage, and asks whether a case, Baker vs. Nelson, would be considered established precedent, settling the issue. (And, I suspect, hindering efforts at gay marriage.)
Sotomayor won’t be pinned down, noting that the issue may be “impending or pending” in the courts and could come before her if she were confirmed, and doesn’t want to prejudge the case.
Grassley got a little frustrated, and suggested that she was picking and choosing where she saw established precedent and where she saw pending matters. Citing other cases she mentioned, he said, “You didn’t seem to compromise or hedge on those matters. Why are you hedging now?”
Sotomayor apologizes and says that it’s been a while since she examined that case, perhaps as long ago as law school.