Minnesota's U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar had an opportunity to question Sonia Sotomayor Wednesday morning, focusing mostly on the Supreme Court nominee's time as a prosecutor in New York and her criminal justice opinions.
Klobuchar began the 30 minute question-and-answer exchange by quoting Sotomayor from a New York Times article.
"The one thing I have found is that if you come into the criminal justice system on a prosecutorial or defense level, thinking you can change the ills of society, you're going to be sorely disappointed," Klobuchar quoted Sotomayor as saying. "This is not where those kinds of changes need to be made."
Sotomayor explained her comments, saying she believes that by the time criminal defendants end up in court, their lives have largely been shaped already. She stressed the importance of early childhood education and the role of parents in keeping people out of court in the first place.
"If you're waiting to do that once they're before a judge in court, your chances at success diminishes dramatically," Sotomayor said. "The success of our communities depends on us improving the quality of our education of our children and of parental participation in ensuring that that happens in our society."
Sotomayor's confirmation hearing resumed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning and is expected to stretch possibly into Thursday.
When asked about her time as a prosecutor, Sotomayor said her role was not to look at the punishment she thought should have been, but rather to prosecute on behalf of the people in New York.
"We cannot remedy the ills of society in a courtroom," Sotomayor said. "We can only apply the law to the facts before us."
When Klobuchar asked Sotomayor about how she thought through cases, Sotomayor said she was greatly influenced by Perry Mason, the fictional defense attorney who was able to establish his client's innocence by demonstrating the guilt of another character.
"My job as a prosecutor is to do justice and justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and an innocent man is not," Sotomayor said.
In a lighter moment, Klobuchar asked Sotomayor if she'd tuned in to the All-Star game Tuesday night. The judge said only that she'd turned it on "for a little while."
Sotomayor is a Yankee fan, and Klobuchar wanted to make sure she knew that shortstop Derek Jeter was in the game but that catcher Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins had driven in the winning run.
Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy, a Vermonter, quipped that "I'm resisting any Red Sox comments."
Later today, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, the most junior member of the committee--and of the U.S. Senate--will be the last to question Sotomayor. Among the issues he plans to cover, Franken said he wants to know more about Sotomayor's views on net neutrality.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)