From NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and Domenico Montanaro
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said he hopes Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) will "keep an open mind" about the timetable for the confirmation hearings.
Sessions said if President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed after September hearings, there would be still be enough time for her to join the Supreme Court by its next session on the first Monday in October.
The Alabama senator said he has "not exhausted" the topic of judicial activism with Sotomayor and indicated that he did not have a full discussion about her past comments or cases. He also said he would like to talk with her again.
On outside conservative groups' pressure
Critics of Sotomayor should "not use pejorative terms" when referring to the judge on matters of race, Sessions warned.
He distanced himself from those conversative voices by saying the "people out there are not party officials." He said the Senate owes her a "good and fair hearing."
On Meet the Press on Sunday, however, Sessions said he would choose different language than the comments made by Rush Limbaugh and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (calling Sotomayor a "racist"), but he didn't rebuke them.
Sessions added that he "enjoyed" the meeting with the judge and was "very impressed by her knowledge, experience and energy level."