Supreme Court nominee seeks to answer critics

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sought to answer critics on Tuesday with a vow to follow the law "ultimately and completely," and a key senator said he wanted confirmation hearings next month so she can rebut what he called unfounded charges of racism. "With the attacks that have been going on against her, I think it would probably be irresponsible to leave her hanging out there" until September, when Republicans favor a hearing, said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat. Sotomayor, a former prosecutor and private attorney who has served as a federal judge for the past 17 years, appears certain to be confirmed by the heavily Democratic-controlled Senate as the first Hispanic on the nations highest court -- and U.S. President Barack Obamas first nominee to the court.