The Washington Post's Dan Balz offers an assessment of the Sotomayor hearings:
Sessions framed the conservative case against Sotomayor and his GOP colleagues filled out the bill of particulars they will pursue this week. They object not only to some things Sotomayor has said, but to Obama's assertion that one of the attributes he wants in a Supreme Court justice is empathy. Does that, they asked, inevitably lead to a biased rendering of the law that unfairly favors one group over another?
Republican Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and Jon Kyl (Ariz.) raised that issue yesterday morning. How can a justice make sure he or she sets aside personal experiences and sympathies when interpreting the Constitution? Kyl wondered what will happen when Sotomayor ascends to the high court and is free from the restraints on any appeals court judge. He was blunt in questioning whether she would be an evenhanded interpreter of the law.
All of these are legitimate areas of inquiry for the Republicans.
Not mentioned: Previous praise by Republicans for judicial "empathy." Also not mentioned: Sam Alito's statement that his ethnic background influences his approach to discrimination cases. Also not mentioned: Sam Alito just sided with someone who shares his ethnic background in a discrimination case that Republicans use to claim Sotomayor is unable to make unbiased decisions.
In other words, these are "legitimate areas of inquiry for the Republicans" unless you happen to consider overt hypocrisy illegitimate.