[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/13/toobin.sotomayor/art.sotomayor.thursday.gi.jpg caption="Sonia Sotomayor appears to view the Constitution much like retired Justice David Souter did."]
CNN Senior Analyst
One of the enduring myths about Supreme Court justices is that they often turn out to "surprise" the presidents who appoint them. Sure-thing conservatives, it is said, turn out to be liberals, and vice versa. In fact, the evidence is almost entirely the opposite: that with justices, as in life, what you see is what you get.
The question, then, is this: What do you see when you look at Sonia Sotomayor, who begins her confirmation hearings as a strong favorite for confirmation?
She is, above all, a veteran judge who has 18 years on the federal bench: six as a trial judge (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) and the rest on the court of appeals (appointed by President Clinton). The question of competence is closed. Sotomayor can do the job. It's no surprise that she received a unanimous rating of well-qualified from the American Bar Association screening committee.
But what would she stand for as a Supreme Court justice? She is, it seems, a liberal, but a liberal in the cautious and careful mode of her likely future colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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