GOP senators told Sotomayor they want to see a respectful, dignified hearing process, and they often praised her personal history and years of experience; they remarked on the historical significance of her nomination as a Latina. Their criticisms were at times pointed, but they were neither personal nor aggressive; those who pointed to Sotomayor's quotes and decisions did so in the spirit of raising questions about her philosophy: they did not assert positively that she's too partial or definitely ascribe any certain philosophy to her.
Here's a recounting/analysis of some key GOP senators and how they performed, individually:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC): Graham gets an A for being the most pithy and direct. He will, most likely, make more headlines than any other GOP senator, based on his performance this morning: he told Sotomayor point-blank that no Republican would have picked her, and he predicted "unless you have a complete meltdown, you're gonna get confirmed, and I don't think you will."
In another quotable moment, Graham injected some political realism into the hearing, echoing a point made by Sotomayor's backers--that Obama's election victory should allow his nominee some deference, and perhaps confirmation. "We lost, and President Obama won, and that oughtta matter," Graham said. Ranking Member Jeff Sessions fielded a question about the remark and a short briefing with reporters after the hearing adjourned, saying he agreed with Graham's sentiment.
Graham will likely get the most face time on TV news coverage of the hearing today and tonight.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT): Hatch stood out as the friendliest to Sotomayor among the committee's Republicans. A longtime member of the committee, Hatch exudes an intellectual independence in the vein of his longtime colleague, Sen. Arlen Specter. He stressed during his remarks that he wants the proceedings to be "respectful and substantive"; his remarks were laced with that sentiment, above questions over Sotomayor's impartiality. He strongly criticized the political aspect of judicial confirmation processes.
"Some of the things that have been said about Judge Sotomayor have been intemperate and unfair," Hatch said, warning against political attacks from the left as well as he cited reports of a "smear campaign" against Frank Ricci, the white firefighter plaintiff who Sotomayor, controversially, ruled against in the New Haven affirmative action case.
Hatch also questioned Obama's commitment to impartiality, but he stood out as a defender of Sotomayor, asserting himself as independent of partisanship.
Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (AL): Sessions offered some of the most pointed criticism of Sotomayor. He set the tone for committee Republicans by warning of the enormous power Supreme Court justices enjoy; he listed instances of judicial activism that included habeas corpus rights for terrorism suspects, removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, private prayer in schools, and "public use" interpretations that demand the sale of private homes for roads and developments.