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Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

As she arrived, Sotomayor greeted GOP senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, center, and Jon Kyl of Arizona. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The fourth and possibly final day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is underway.

As NPR's Deborah Tedford reported earlier:

Among those scheduled to testify is firefighter Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff in a reverse discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of firefighters against the city of New Haven, Conn. Sotomayor, who serves on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, was on a three-judge panel that rejected the case, but last month the Supreme Court ruled on the firefighters' behalf.

First, Sotomayor will take some final questions from members of the committee.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. NPR's Audie Cornish summarizes today's news in this report:

Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Update at 1 p.m. ET: It looks like there will be a Senate vote on the confirmation before Congress leaves for vacation.

"I look forward to you getting that vote before we recess in August," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions also said, the AP writes, that he would not support any attempt to block a vote on confirmation and didn't believe any other Republican would, either.

Sotomayor's time before the committee is now finished. Coming up this afternoon: Testimony from Ricci and other witnesses.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who yesterday caused some buzz by stumping Sotomayor with a question about Perry Mason, elicits a long, personal answer from the nominee by asking why she wants to be a Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor says she "can't think of any greater service that I can give to the country":

Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Update at 11:10 a.m. ET. On whether the best way to stop discriminating based on race is to stop discriminating based on race:

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, presses Sotomayor on the issue of reverse discrimination, by citing the view of Chief Justice John Roberts — who has said the "best way to stop discriminating based on race is to stop discriminating based on race." Sotomayor turns to the Constitution as her foundation for treating people equally. And they finish the discussion by endorsing (with an "amen" from Cornyn) the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:

Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Update at 10:52 a.m. ET. Sticking with his concern that things she has said over the years indicate she might be a different, more activist Supreme Court justice than the "mainstream" lower court judge she has been, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn asks about comments Sotomayor has made that appeals court judges make "policy."

Sotomayor says she was not referring to the kind of policy that Congress sets. She says she was speaking about the fact that when an appeals courts "issue a holding it become precedent" in that circuit.

Update at 10:48 a.m. ET: After saying to Sotomayor that "your judicial record strikes me as pretty much in the mainstream," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, says that "you appear to be a different person ... in your speeches and in some of your comments."

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. More hints from Graham that he will vote to confirm?

On Monday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said that "we lost, and President Obama won, and that ought to matter" when members of his party decide how they'll vote on Sotomayor's confirmation.

Just moments ago, after he spoke at length about the Second Amendment and whether it establishes a "fundamental right" to gun ownership, Graham told Sotomayor that he thinks she would be able to "embrace" that right because she's not "an activist":

Republican Senators Get Last Chance To Question Sotomayor

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Graham also noted, though, that some things Sotomayor has said over the years "bug the hell out of me." Among the things he and other Republicans have been most disturbed about is her statement that a "wise Latina" woman might make better decisions than a white man.

Update at 9:42 a.m. ET:

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., opens with a question about the New Haven firefighters case. "Isn't it true," he asks, that Sotomayor was incorrect when she said her court was bound by Supreme Court precedent when it ruled that the city of New Haven could toss out a promotion test because minority firefighters had scored poorly on it?

"There is no Supreme Court precedent," Kyl says.

Sotomayor begins a discussion of the case. Kyl interrupts to say that if she were on the bench at this moment, she would interrupt to say "that's all fine and dandy counsel, but answer my question."

They eventually settle on this: That she contends there was precedent in her circuit for the decision her appeals court reached, and Kyl is baffled by that position.

If you want to follow the hearing via a webcast, NPR.org, courtesy of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, is streaming the proceedings. Click here for that. So are the Judiciary Committee itself, C-SPAN and just about every other major news media outlet with a website.

We're live-blogging as warranted. Be sure to click your "refresh" button to see our latest updates.

NPR.org's complete coverage is collected here.

Both Morning Edition and All Things Considered will be on top of the story as well, and NPR is broadcasting a one-hour recap of the day's events on most member stations each evening as the hearing continues. Click here to find an NPR station near you.