A final sketch drawn from dispatches from TIME’s Sophia Yan:
Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, pretty much summed up the week’s confirmation hearings Thursday morning when he said the he could not envision filibustering Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, nor any of his colleagues doing so. The Alabama senator, one of Sotomayor’s fiercest critics in two rounds of questioning, went on to predict a speedy confirmation before the August recess, a timeline he once opposed as far too short. And the panel hadn’t even heard from the witnesses yet.
The last round — Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy refused a third round — of question and answers rounded out with a few now-familiar rounds of Ricci v. DeStefano, “wise Latina” and Second Amendment rights. The line of inquiry by the panel’s last four Dems took on an also historic feel, so foregone seemed the conclusion. When asked by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar what she’d like historians to say about her, Sotomayor responded: “I can’t live my life to write history’s story. That will be the job of historians long after I’m gone…. In the end, I hope it will say that I’m a fair judge, that I was a caring person and that I lived my life serving my country.”
Sotomayor, in a vibrant pink jacket, rose and bid, perhaps, her last farewells to the committee as a mere nominee. And then, the panel took pity on us fish and changed the water. The afternoon saw the beginning of witness statements, which will continue through Friday. This testimony was a hyperbolic contrast to the measured tones of the first 3.5 days. In this phase of the hearings both parties bring in the appellate judge’s greatest supporters and greatest detractors to testify – a kind of Kabuki theater that has rarely impacted a judge’s fate. The Anita Hill of Sotomayor’s hearings was meant to be Frank Ricci,a baby-faced white New Haven firefighter who sued the city when his promotion was denied after not enough minorities passed a promotions test. Luckily for Sotomayor, Ricci was no Anita Hill and – barring a real shocker from a witness tomorrow – Sotomayor’s hearings look to wrap up with the same air of inevitability with which they began.