Sotomayor Treads Lightly On Gun Issue

sotomayor hearings
Sonia Sotoymayor is seeking to reassure senators that she would not take any "preconceived notions" about gun rights to the Supreme Court if confirmed as a justice.

The 55-year-old Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that "one of my Godchildren is a member of the NRA. I have friends who hunt."

But she also said that as a member of the high court bench, she would feel constrained by precedent, if the Supreme Court has already spoken on an issue. The high court earlier this year reaffirmed the right of people to own a gun for their self-defense.

Watch live video and analysis of the confirmation hearings.

In addition to gun rights, Sotomayor defended herself Tuesday against charges that her speeches and rulings show racial bias, telling a Senate panel vetting her nomination that critics had misunderstood her record.

"I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences," Sotomayor said.

Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's pick to become the high court's first Hispanic and third woman, was responding to sharp criticism of a 2001 speech in which she suggested a "wise Latina" would usually reach better conclusions than a white man without similar experiences.

In her second day before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sotomayor said her background as a trial and appellate court judge had taught her to keep an open mind and not come to any cases with a prejudgment of the outcome.