Sessions: Sotomayor's Liberal Activism "Will Flower"

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
If appointed to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor's "liberal activist" judicial philosophy will flourish, according to the Senate's ranking Republican on the Judicial Committee.

Just hours before confirmation hearings commence, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions reiterated his wariness of the judge on CBS' "The Early Show," referring to speeches Sotomayor has made in the past.

While admitting that Sotomayor's record as a judge in lower courts "is better than her speeches," Sessions said her liberal philosophy "will flower" if she joins the Supreme Court and called her approach "outside the mainstream."

Senate Democrat Charles Schumer, also on the Judicary Committee, rebutted Sessions' claim on MSNBC, saying of Sotomayor: "She's not far left. She's not far right. She's mainstream."

Sunday, on "Face The Nation," Sessions said Sotomayor has "criticized the idea that a woman and a man would reach the same result," which he called "philosophically incompatible with the American system."

Despite some Republican opposition, Sotomayor's hearing is widely considered to be a mere formality. Asked if the hearings instead will serve as a chance for Republicans to distinguish themselves politically, Sessions admitted, "there is some truth to that."

Editor's Note: On Monday, visit our CourtWatch blog to watch live video of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, plus running commentary from CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen via Twitter.