There is no such thing as "judicial activism," or "legislating from the bench." When judges act, they adjudicate objectively through the prisim of their personal legal philosophy, which creates a subjective result: by definition, courts must pick a winner.
On the other hand, when legislators act, they legislate. Similarly, judges' acts do, in fact, have repercussions, because they have to wade through the grey areas, or unclear language, or pandering unconstitutional provisions crafted by legislators who want to get re-elected by constituents who don't know any better than to buy into sound-bite buzzword catch phrases. And, yes, as Sonia Sotomayor said at a symposium (below), if appeals court judges do set "policy," it's because their written opinions have been followed to interpret the work of the above-described legislators since the beginning of the Republic.
She's a good nominee. Elections have consequeneces (though, some think not enough). I look forward to watching the Wingnut "culture war" get stirred up again, only to alienate the Hispanic electorate, and prove, yet again, how badly they are grasping at political and intellectual straws.