Opposition Republicans are promising thorough Senate confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The next step in the confirmation process for Judge Sotomayor is preparing for public hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee sometime in the next few months.

The top Republican on the committee, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, told NBC's Today program that he will insist on a serious look at Judge Sotomayor's legal record and judicial philosophy.

In particular, Sessions said Republicans will look for any indications that Sotomayor injects personal views into her legal decisions.

"That that person will be faithful to the law and not allow their personal views to influence decision-making.  This is a fundamental question of American law," he said.

Senators are expected to question Sotomayor about a comment she made at a legal forum in 2001 when she spoke about the role of federal judges and appeals courts.

"The court of appeals is where policy is made, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we do not make law, I know, I know, and I am not promoting it, I am not advocating it," she said at the time.

That view has already raised concerns among Republicans who believe judges should make their decisions based on the law and legal precedent, not personal political views.

Conservative activists are already lining up to oppose Sotomayor's nomination.

Bruce Hausknecht is with a group called Focus on the Family.

"It causes concern over whether she understands the role of a judge, especially for a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land," he said.

Democrats remain confident that Sotomayor will be confirmed, largely because they control nearly 60 of the 100 seats in the Senate.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York also appeared on NBC television.

"I think when they look at her record they are going to support her.  She is moderate.  She is excellent," he said.

Political analysts also point out that Republicans may be reluctant to block her nomination out of concern of offending Hispanic-Americans, who represent one of the fastest growing blocs of voters in the country.

A random sampling of public reaction in Los Angeles indicated support for Judge Sotomayor.

MAN #1:  "Especially now that we have an African-American president, now he is giving an opportunity to Hispanics."

MAN #2:  "It is a wonderful choice for America and for the Hispanic people in America."

MAN #3:  "I think that is tremendous and it will be a real recognition of the demographics of the population."

President Obama is urging the Senate to confirm Sotomayor by August so she can take her place as the ninth justice on the Supreme Court when the new court term begins in October.  Sotomayor has been nominated to fill the spot being vacated by Justice David Souter, who has announced his retirement.