Seizing on a Republican criterion for judicial nominees, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) praised Sonia Sotomayor's judicial restraint today after meeting with nominee.

"I appreciate that she has shown restraint as a judge," Leahy said in a statement. "We do not need another Supreme Court Justice intent on second guessing Congress, undercutting laws passed to benefit Americans and to protect their liberties, and making light of judicial precedent."

Responding to claims by some conservatives that Sotomayor is a racist, Leahy retorted that "nothing could be further from the truth."

"These are some of the same people who vilify Justice Souter and Justice O'Connor," Leahy said. "Americans deserve better. I hope all Senators will join and work with me to fulfill our constitutional duties with respect."

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Leahy called for prompt hearings, saying that any delay would unfairly prevent her from responding to her critics. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the committee, has called for September hearings. The White House prefers July.