U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is spending a second day meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Sotomayor is holding talks with 10 senators, most of them Democrats, Wednesday in advance of her confirmation hearings.  The hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee have not been scheduled yet.

On Tuesday, Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy slammed Republican attacks of Sotomayor, saying leading Republicans have likened her to a bigot.  He also called for hearings on her nomination to be promptly scheduled.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had called Sotomayor a racist for remarks she made in 2001, when she suggested her life experience as a Latina woman would enable her "more often than not" to reach a better conclusion in a court case than a white male jurist. 

However, in a statement to supporters Wednesday, Gingrich said his initial reaction was "perhaps too strong and too direct."  He said the word "racist" should not have been applied.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University (in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut) shows more than 70 percent of voters surveyed disagree with Sotomayor's ruling in a reverse discrimination case involving Connecticut firefighters.

In the 2008 ruling, Sotomayor was on a three-judge panel that sided against a group of mostly white firefighters who said they had been unfairly denied promotions.  The city had thrown out promotion test results because no blacks had scored high enough to qualify.  The case will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and third woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.  She would replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring next month after 19 years on the high court.

President Barack Obama is calling for the Senate to confirm Sotomayor before Congress takes its August recess.  

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters