WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the glare of bright lights, Sen. Patrick Leahy called to order confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor that she hopes will make history and knows will be closely followed by millions.
It was all happening in a large, square Senate office building hearing room, relatively unadorned compared to the cavernous sancturaries elsewhere on Capitol Hill. Leahy banged the gavel and looked straight into the eyes of the 55-year-old native New Yorker, welcoming her to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sotomayor (SUHN'-ya soh-toh-my-YOR') would be the first Hispanic and third woman to sit on the high court bench. A smiling Sotomayor greeted some senators and took her seat, ready to hear opening statements and make her own case publicly for the first time.
The drama and tension of the moment was palpable as senators took their seats, photographers jockeyed for position and the hearing room was filled to capacity.