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Editorial: Sotomayer hearings to see a bit of politics

Confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor begin next week in Washington.

The view of Hispanics will play a big role in the Sotomayor hearings as well as Republican efforts at a political rebuilding of their party.

Many Hispanics are proud of Sotomayor's appointment as they should be. They are proud of her accomplishments, her roots and her record. Many are hopeful that she is confirmed at the conclusion of the hearings.

Therein lies the challenge for Republicans seeking to oppose Sotomayor's nomination. Divisive debate over this nomination risks a Hispanic backlash at the ballot box.

Hispanics have played a major role in determining election winners in Florida since 2000 and in Nevada since 2004.

In 2010, Republicans must defend Senate seats in three states -- Arizona, Utah and Florida -- where Hispanics are a high percentage of the respective state's population.

Therefore, Sotomayor can expect a delicate but tough questioning by Republican senators. Certainly, the hearing will not be a cakewalk.

The hearings are supposed to be and should be about the qualifications of the nominee. However, politics, as always, will play a major role.

The reality is that unless Sotomayor performs poorly during next week's hearing, this Hispanic woman will be the next Supreme Court justice.