Judge Sonia Sotomayor could be a terrorist-loving gun toter, a rhetoric-spewing opportunist, or a closet conservative. She’s pushed the boundaries on abortion and race relations in the US, but finding where Sotomayor — potentially the first Hispanic Justice in the US — really stands, is proving to be a bit of a stretch.

Nominated by President Obama to replace Justice David Souter on the US Supreme Court bench, Sotomayor is deflecting political bullets this week, as her confirmation hearings continue.

Of Puerto Rican descent, Sotomayor is no stranger to the ethnicity card, declaring in 2001:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

But Al Jazeera reports she’s now downplaying the rhetoric, on Tuesday telling the Supreme Judiciary Committee:

I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment.

Politico notes that Sotomayor is using the law as a shield for any personal bias, shedding no light on whether she would become a judicial activist if appointed to the Supreme Court. She has said that “Life experiences generally…the amalgam of them help me to listen and understand. But all of us understand — because that’s the kind of judges we have proven ourself to be — we rely on the law to command the results in the case.”

While many right-leaners portray Sotomayor as a liberal threat, conservative legal advocacy group The Committee for Justice has gone one further, claiming that Sotomayor is not only a threat to national values, but that she and her homies could unravel national security.

The Committee’s new TV add says:

Remember Barack Obama’s buddy Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist who bombed American buildings in the 70’s? Turns out President Obama’s done it again — picked someone for the Supreme Court — Judge Sonia Sotomayor — who led a group supporting violent Puerto Rican terrorists. Is this radical judge the type of person America needs sitting on our highest court? What was he thinking? What was she thinking? Call your senators. Tell them to stop Sonia Sotomayor. Paid for by the Committee for Justice.

Sotomayor has attracted support from pro-life activists for her commitment to the (1973) Roe v Wade ruling on a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and interference-free abortion. But like questions of guns and race, she isn’t keen to press the issue today.

NPR looks at her evasion of the big questions:

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor said Wednesday that neither President Obama nor any member of the White House staff asked her substantive questions about abortion or any other issue prior to her nomination.

While Sotomayor remains elusive (which is par for the course for Supreme Court nominees, according to the LA Times), The New York Times claims her hearings are just pawn play:

The Republicans hope their aggressive questioning of Judge Sotomayor on race discrimination, gun control and the death penalty will make it harder for Mr. Obama to choose a more outspoken liberal in the future. Liberal activists, by contrast, hope the hearings demonstrate that a Democratic president has nothing to fear from Republicans who have not rattled Judge Sotomayor. If she is confirmed by a commanding vote that includes a number of Republicans, the activists argue they will have given Mr. Obama more political running room next time to name a more full-throated champion of liberal values.