Like many people, I was troubled by Sotomayor’s decision in the Ricci case and her now infamous statement about a “wise Latina.” I wondered whether they revealed a permanent bias and whether she is capable of approaching all cases impartially.

I found reassurance in her long judicial record, which shows no pattern of systematic bias. Of 96 race-related cases on which Sotomayor issued a decision, she found discrimination in only 10, and nine of those decisions were unanimous. Despite some objectionable comments in speeches, when it comes to deciding cases, Sotomayor’s record overwhelmingly shows impartiality on racial issues.

That does not mean I am sanguine about the prospect of a new lifetime member of the Supreme Court making decisions with which I disagree. But judges’ qualifications should matter more than ideology, as long as the ideology is within the mainstream…

As a former member of Congress, I observed the transformation of the confirmation process into the spectacle it has become in recent years. Judge Robert Bork’s personal movie-rental records were examined. Alito was asked about a college student organization he participated in decades earlier. This sordid kind of questioning serves only one purpose: assassinating a nominee’s character because of presumed ideological disagreements…

This disturbing trend must stop.