[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/13/sotomayor.hearing/art.sotmoayor.hearing.cnn.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor speaks Monday to the Senate panel considering her nomination to the Supreme Court."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said Monday that her hotly disputed judicial philosophy is, in fact, quite simple: Remain faithful to the law.
"In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy," Sotomayor told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during her opening statement at her confirmation hearings.
"It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record ... reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms, interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and by my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
Sotomayor said the "process of judging is enhanced when the arguments and concerns of the parties to the litigation are understood and acknowledged."
That, she noted, "is why I generally structure my opinions by setting out what the law requires and then explaining why a contrary position, sympathetic or not, is accepted or rejected. That is how I seek to strengthen both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of our judicial system."
Sotomayor argued that her "personal and professional experiences help [her] listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case."
Some of Sotomayor's critics have argued that she has allowed her rulings to be swayed by factors such as ethnicity and race.