Sotomayor on judicial activism: 'I don't use that term'

Sonia Sotomayor avoided diving into the "judicial activism" debate today by refusing to offer her definition of the controversial term.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Sotomayor how she would describe judicial activism--undoubtedly to give Sotomayor a chance to push back against her conservative critics. But Sotomayor wouldn't bite.

"I don't use the term because I don't describe what judges do that way," Sotomayor responded, adding that "each one of us is attempting to interpret the law according to principles of statutory construction and other guiding legal principles."

Conservatives have accused Sotomayor of wanting to "legislative from the bench," seizing on her past comments that appeals courts are "where policy is made."

Throughout her hearings, Sotomayor has deftly avoided answering questions in the way her inquisitors would prefer. Offering a definition of "judicial activism" would give Republicans an opportunity to take issue with her answer, steering the conversation in a direction Sotomayor and her supporters would prefer to avoid.