President Obama has made his first selection for the U.S. Supreme Court in federal appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Observers now are studying decisions she handed down in more than 25 years on the federal bench, seeking evidence about her views on key issues.

Michael Kennedy, the Associated General Contractors’ general counsel, says Sotomayor’s construction-related decisions “track relatively closely” with those of Justice David Souter, whom she is being nominated to replace. Thus, Kennedy sees “little to indicate at this point that her confirmation would significantly alter the court’s disposition toward the construction industry.”

Labor unions and environmental groups like Obama’s choice. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says Sotomayor, whose father was a factory worker, “will...bring to the Supreme Court a direct and personal understanding of the struggles America’s workers endure every day.” Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope says his group is “encouraged” by Sotomayor’s 2007 opinion in Riverkeeper Inc. v. EPA, which dealt with the use of cost-benefit analysis in rules for powerplant water intakes. But the Supreme Court on April 1 overturned the ruling.

Obama, who announced Sotomayor as his nominee on May 26, says she “has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable” on the high court. Before coming to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1988, Sotomayor served for six years as a federal district judge in New York. Earlier, she was an assistant district attorney and a corporate litigator.