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Republicans Sound a Skeptical Note About Sotomayor's Legal Record

By Robert Barnes
Republican senators on the Sunday political talk shows strove today for a respectful but skeptical stance on Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, saying that she needs to explain her positions but distancing themselves from two notable conservatives, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who have labeled her as a "racist."

"I don't think that's an accurate description of her," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sessions agreed on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Sotomayor's record as a former prosecutor, corporate lawyer and 17 years as a federal judge, at both the district and circuit level, was an ideal match for elevation to the Supreme Court.

But he said he and other members of his party were concerned about speeches Sotomayor has given about a judge's decisions being affected by life experiences. That, Sessions said, was contrary to American notions of "blindfolded justice."

None of the Republicans on the shows predicted attempting a filibuster to block Sotomayor's nomination, but none ruled it out, either.

"I think we need to look at the record fully, and I think we ought to do that in an expeditious way," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). "I don't think that the need for filibuster will be there unless we have not had a chance to look at the record fully. That's when a closer vote comes into play."

Sotomayor's home-state senator and sponsor through the Senate confirmation process, Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), predicted that GOP senators would not mount a filibuster.

"When my Republican colleagues -- and I think they have approached this in an open-minded way -- when they see her record of excellence, she's legally excellent, of moderation, she is not a far left-wing judge. Business Week said her record on business was moderate, the Wall Street Journal called her mainstream, and then her compelling history -- I think she's virtually filibuster-proof when people learn her record and her story," Schumer said on ABC's "This Week."

Much of the talk-show discussion involved Sotomayor's remark at a 2001 conference on Hispanics in the judiciary in which she talked about how her Puerto Rican heritage affects her role as a judge. "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," she said.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) seemed to be the most offended of the talk-show guests. "What she said is that, based on her life experiences, that she felt a Latina woman, somebody with her background, would be a better judge than a guy like me -- a white guy from South Carolina," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "It is troubling, and it's inappropriate and I hope she'll apologize."

President Obama has said he believes Sotomayor would have "restated" the remarks to make clear she was talking about how "her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through. That will make her a good judge."

Sessions appeared on NBC with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and the two said they would decide on when confirmation hearings begin. Leahy said the confirmation process would proceed on the Senate's schedule, not the one set by Obama, who wants a vote on Sotomayor before the Senate takes its recess Aug. 7.

But Leahy seemed to issue a mild warning to Republicans that, if attacks on Sotomayor as a racist continue, he might schedule the hearings earlier than he normally would to allow her a chance to defend herself.

By Post Editor  |  May 31, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Comments

Sessions can vote nay because of his electorate, Hutchinson cannot, nor anyone from NV, AZ or FL. They will question her, especially on overturned decisions, but the tone will be lowered from racist to unduly influenced. She should sail through barring an Spitzer type revelation.

Posted by: jameschirico | May 31, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

she will be accepted,that shows what a screwed up state of govt we have.

Posted by: silusdogood | May 31, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Come the next election cycle nobody will remember that Sotomayor made an innocuous statement in a speech eight years ago but Latinos will remember with like-it-was-yesterday clarity that a gaggle of GOP officials and unelected pundits attacked one of their own in a grotesque revival of bigotry.

From holding all the reins to third-party status in only a few years. Way to go, Karl.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 31, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

This is nothing but the same old double standard. If a white person had made similar comments they would have been run out of town on a rail. Because Sontomayor is a Latina we have to "understand" her racism.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"This is nothing but the same old double standard. If a white person had made similar comments they would have been run out of town on a rail. Because Sontomayor is a Latina we have to "understand" her racism.

Posted by: LAGringo |"

Nonsense. White people in this country have been making comments like that for almost 400 years now. Take you, for example, La Gringo.

Posted by: thrh | May 31, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

posted by thrh: Nonsense. White people in this country have been making comments like that for almost 400 years now. Take you, for example, La Gringo.

I think not. Living in Los Angeles, Latinos constantly refer to white people as Gabachos, as you know a very derogatory term. Gringo is less racist but still serves to prove my point. Latino racism is rampant and even more repulsive when one considers most of the Latino racists are here illegally. And let’s not forget the poor victims of Mexican racism is Juahaca.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Funny how short the GOP memory is. Alito said the same thing during his confirmation hearing about how his Italian heritage and the fact that his grandparents were immigrants shaped his views. But oh geez let someone elected by a Dem president say that and you would think we have the second coming of Gerbels. Hypocrites.........

Posted by: rharring | May 31, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

La Gringo. Shame on you for mentioning there is a double-standard. Don't you know there there has to be 400-years of discrimination against whites for this to all equal out (as Thrh pointed out)? Shame on you for objecting to accepting the shame you must bear for the sins of the past, which you probably had no connection to, it doesn't matter under this grand democratization as long as "justice" prevails. Goooooobama!

Posted by: RUListening2Urself | May 31, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are good at picking and choosing molehill-size controversies and turning them into mountains of offense by making outrageous extrapolations and remarks. As usual, they will try to regain lost ground and the public's good grace by using scare tactics, blurring the facts and anointing itself as the only defender of equal rights. It is hysterical, and yet all too expected.

Posted by: truthlyspeaking | May 31, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Santomaoyr is obviuosly a racist and she lets her racism color her decisions from the bench. Will she be confirmed? Yes she will. She will be confirmed inspite of her racist nature.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

My God. Hell hath frozen over. I actually agree with the GOP.

It always seemed obvious that she was nominated over other candidates primarily for her gender and race. Now it seems that her judgment is affected by the same.

She IS NOT an adequate candidate for the United States Supreme Court. Never, no way.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

It really makes no difference how many years you think it might take "to even out" racism.

Racism is racism. wrong is wrong.

If you see this as a racial fight then you're already in the wrong. It appears that this judge feels exactly that way. She is not fit for service to our Supreme Court any more than a white racist.

And spare me the history lesson. This is 2009.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Keep the attacks coming, you dumb as*republicans.... keep 'em coming!
Whahoo!!!!
Telemundo and Univision will replay those attacks over, and over, and over again, guaranteeing republican a place in the wilderness forever...
Keep 'em coming....
You dumb as* republicans would cut off your noses to spite your faces!
Keep 'em coming.....
If you think this crap plays anywhere beyond you NARROW republican base, you dumb as*republicans, you're nuts.
Keep it coming!!
Limbaugh, Cheney, Gingrich are the face of the republican party, spewing hate, intolerance and real racism; having these hate mongers spew their racist crap is the best thing us anti-republicans could hope for, and these idiots have walked into Obama's trap with a vengeance....
Keep it coming... and the republicans will lose even more in 2010 and 2012.
Oh, wait.... you dumb as*republicans have ALREADY provided enough hate for the next four years - you can stop now, but you won't.
Whahooo.... next, just run Gingrich for president!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse


Obama picked Sotomayor to win the Latino vote, figuring Republicans would not object lest they be labeled racist. The man is quite suckful.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I sure am not a Republican - can't stand what they've come to represent - but this woman is not the right person for such an important and prestigious post as a US Supreme Court Justice. No way.

Surprising myself to actually agree with anything the GOP says but in this case they are right and the left is solidly wrong.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse


jeffc6578 said:
"these idiots have walked into Obama's trap with a vengeance"

What trap is that?
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

As an old, not fat, not Southern white guy, I would rather trust someone with a distinguished academic and legal record who has succeeded despite significant hardships than some privileged self-important redneck good ole Republican boy from anywhere south of Ohio.

Posted by: frodot | May 31, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Gingrich/Limbaugh 2012.... GO GOP!!!!
Whahoooo!!!!
Maybe Ann Coulter could be Secretary of State.... and Dick Cheney could be the dark overlord.... Oh wait, he already is!
They could run on a platform of white rich people power!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Billw3-
You have to ask what trap???
You republicans are really THAT stupid?
Attacking a latino woman as racist? You don't think the fastest growing demographic in the US won't be profoundly offended by these shrill and patently false attacks on Sototmayor? You don't think these attacks will come back to haunt the republicans?
KEEP IT COMING!!!!
Whaooo!!!!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, the racist Latino television networks Telemundo, Galavision, Univision et al. Every person on them looks like they're white! You see no indigenous looking Latinos on Spanish T.V. unless they are in roles of gardeners and maids. And they support the Mexican government’s racist policies against the indigenous looking people of Mexico, especially those from Juahaca.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Again, I agree wholeheartedly: She's a racist. The GOP (and man I can't stand them) are the only people with the sense or the backbone (wow, what are we coming to when I can make THAT statment?!) to point out that this candidate is not fit for this office.

I voted for Obama. Love him. But this is a very wrong thing for American justice.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse


jeffc6578 said:
"Attacking a latino woman as racist?"

So her racist remark doesn't her racist?
By the way, did you inherit the tendancy to name-call or did you work it out all on your own?
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Billw3-
I learned it from Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree bill: it is just not "PC" to call a minority out as racist, but to think that this does not exist - and is not a factor in this discussion - is naive and foolish.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Whahooo!!!!!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse


jeffc6578:
I repeat my question:
So Sotomayor's racist remark doesn't her racist?
Well, does it?
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

bill: don't feed the troll
waste of time. we might actually get some intelligent posts on this thread.

Again, I am NOT conservative or Republican, but for once in a blue moon I agree with them.

I welcome any intelligent comments from the left. It is always a struggle for the rest of us to listen to the right and left argue - all the same ignorant crap to me...

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse


scoates2482 said:
"I agree bill: it is just not "PC" to call a minority out as racist, but to think that this does not exist - and is not a factor in this discussion - is naive and foolish."

Sotomayor labeled herself a racist, but the Obama followers overlook this since the Messiah is their hero.
.



Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Billw3- I really think context is important, and I don't find it particularly racist; I think the point is a court composed of rich old white men isn't representative of society. I guess it's OK if you're an old rich white guy, though.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Bill: believe it or not, I like Obama. I just don't agree with this nomination.

Jeff: doesn't matter what race or background someone is from just so long as they can provide impartial decisions on the highest court in the US - perhaps the world. This candidate doesn't show that.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

And just to clarify, I do believe there is reverse racism. My last boss was a militant anti-white black woman who couldn't stand that I was a white guy; our main vendor got our business only because the guy who processed out data was black.
I just don't think that this is the case with Sotomayor.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse


scoates2482:
I'm a conservative, but favor Bill Clinton over Bush, Jr. Re Obama, he lucked up to win the primary. RE McCain, he deserved the Office, but not sure he was qualified.
RE the troll, he is a fairly typical Obama follower.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to have the full transcripts from the cases that these controversial statements came from, but we'll never be trusted with such telling information. We might decide to think for ourselves.

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Everything else being said, attacking Sotomayor is only going to relegate republicans to the trash bin of history, and I welcome that.
As a veteran, the chicken hawk republicans who started a war of choice in Iraq should be condemned, so anything they do to shoot themselves in the feet is welcome.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Those old white and black farts never made the statements that Sontomayor made. She is a racist, she will be confirmed, and we just have to accept the fact that an avowed racist will be on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s the reality of the situation.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Jeff: I won't vote Rep for a while either way, but in this case they are right, right, right. We sure could use a 3rd party. One that wouldn't nominate this judge, whatever her background, for purely polical reasons. I actually (God forbid) respect the Reps for standing their ground on this one in spite of the potential for blow back.

LAGringo: you're probably right. Sad but true.

Okay, it's late where I'm at. Goodnight and sleep well.......

Posted by: scoates2482 | May 31, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse


jeffc6578 said:
"As a veteran, the chicken hawk republicans who started a war of choice in Iraq should be condemned, so anything they do to shoot themselves in the feet is welcome."

I agree re Bush, he is a near idiot. However your problem is stereotyping all Republicans in his image. Party-line support is the main problem in politics. In my opinion you should think this over.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | May 31, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

When you look at this issue from a values perspective, the conclusion is self evident. The fact that Sontomayor is a Latina is deemed more important than the fact that she is a racist.

Posted by: LAGringo | May 31, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I totally believe that the Republicans have lost their minds. They are doing MORE harm to their party with this behavior. They want to court the Hispanic vote? This sure isn't the way to do it!

I agree with El Gringo: the major Spanish-language outlets such as Univision and Telemundo are going to make sure the major Republican players in this, such as Sessions, Hutchinson, and especially the so-called "distinguished" senator from SC, Mr Graham, will be well mentioned about their "tactful" comments about Sotomayor!

Posted by: cowboyjohn57 | May 31, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

any stand up(trial) lawyer will tell you that ALL judges are influenced by their life events- not just Alito and Sotomayor. If the public really thinks that judges are computers, it't time they learn that they are real life people. That's why having some balance on a multi-person court is important. Sotomayor will be a helpful offset to hard right Scalia, for example. She can talk him down and help offset his bullying in chambers.

Posted by: auntywbush | May 31, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

after the 2012 elections there will probably be 65-68 democratic senators.if the republicans dont get [our]act together this is not a good fight.

Posted by: donaldtucker | May 31, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: scoates2482:

I sure am not a Republican - can't stand what they've come to represent - but this woman is not the right person for such an important and prestigious post as a US Supreme Court Justice. No way.

My God. Hell hath frozen over. I actually agree with the GOP.

It always seemed obvious that she was nominated over other candidates primarily for her gender and race. Now it seems that her judgment is affected by the same.

She IS NOT an adequate candidate for the United States Supreme Court. Never, no way.
-------------------------------------------

Interesting part of this, scoates2482: you will not be given the opportunity of voting yes or no on this issue! It's all up to our fair-weathered friends in the Senate.


Posted by: cowboyjohn57 | May 31, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Billw3:
After the bush years, I have no choice but to sterotype republicans - and I say this as someone who's father was appointed by Nixon.
Until reasonable moderates take the party back over, I have to continue believing republicans are a menace to society.
As long as you guys keep apologizing to Rush Limbaugh, you are and will be Bushie republicans.
The only way you'll emerge from this is to stand up to the extremists in your party, including Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and above all, Rush.
Unless you tow the republican party line and spew talking points, apparently your not welcome in the party - and while I'm at it, how can you defend that chicken shi chicken hawk Cheney for excoriating Colin Powell, a decorated veteran with more nuts in his left pinky finger than Cheney?
Until you guys denounce the Bushies, you're headed to oblivion.
I would love to see multiple viable parties, as a true independent - I'm not a dem, but I am vehemently anti-republican, so I have little choice.
Everything else aside, Bush got to choose his appointees, and Obama gets his.
If you don't like it, present a party void of hate and intolerance, and you might get somewhere.
Just once I'd like to meet a republican who understands that Fox news is the enemy of democrats and republicans alike, and is willing to publicly castigate Rush and not back down.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | May 31, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

It is saddening to see citizens squabbling over non-issues in order to uphold the "Democrat" or "Republican" line because those terms mean less than nothing now. The "opposing parties" are merely distraction to draw our attention from things that really matter. The party labels have become a distinction without any meaningful difference.

The issues that actually matter suggest we find a better way to define ourselves. Are we Globalists or Constitutional Patriots? There are members of each group in each party. A few respect and honor their oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Those who do not are working to crush our free Republic so we can be more easily given to the "New World Order", abandoning our Liberty to a World government. In other words, they are Traitors.

Every person serving in any branch of our government must be bound by the constraints of the Constitution. It alone insures ours is a government "of Laws, not of Men". And nowhere is this more important than in choosing Supreme Court Justices. Any Senator worth his/her salt will oppose any nominee whose record fails to demonstrate a strong fidelity to, and understanding of, our Constitution.

I personally deplore both the Democrat and Republican parties more or less equally. But what I really despise is the current governing band of Globalist Traitors' disdain for our Constitution. I dislike being governed by Traitors.

Posted by: wdlockaby | May 31, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Scoates:

You remarked: "...we might actually get some intelligent posts on this thread."

I read these things frequently, and while I admire your optimism, I must say, "Not a freakin' chance in H---."

Intelligence does not live in "comment" blogs.

Sorry.

Posted by: joebennett1 | June 1, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Let's, for once be realistic. What we do today affects our country for generations to follow.

This mad rush to revise the Constitution by the judicary must stop and stop now.

Our childern's childern and their childern deserve better than the legacy we're leaving them.

Our pious forebearers designed a document to ensure the well being of their constituents, albeit I'm sure they had their own welfare at the top of the list.

Our freedom is governed by the houses of Congress and approved by the President of these United States, not the courts whose only right is to rule on any laws constitutional adherence.

Let's be very careful in what we do next.

Posted by: rgwheel | June 1, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

As the debate on Judge Sotomayor's staement about Latina women and white men goes on please read ( Pace vs Alabama )The Alabama State Supreme Court, made a ruling that was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.
All of the Justices agreed that:

"THE EVIL TENDENCY OF THE OF THE CRIME[OF ADULTRY OR FORNICATION] IS GREATER WHEN COMMITRD BETWEEN PERSONS OF THE TWO RACES...ITS RESULT MAY BE THE AMALGAMATION OF THE TWO RACES,PRODUCING A MONGREL POPULATION AND A DEGRADED CIVILATION,, THE PREVENTION OF WHICH IS DICTAED BY A SOUND POLICY AFFECTING THE HIGHEST INTEREST OF SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT."
When these men made this statemeent, wjat part of the14th amendment were they referring too? Where they using their own personal beliefs?

Posted by: joherringt8 | June 1, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

However, the Republicans choose to fight her nomination, they really have little to say without any appearance of offending a very significant electoral group. The very voicing of being offended by the 'white men' and 'latina' will only confirm what many already knew. She may be very passionate on her personal heritage issues but her bench behaviours showed that she can divorce that passion from her legal works on the bench. Will she influence the course of justice? Off course? Isn't that what Supreme Court justices do?

Posted by: attl | June 1, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Judge Sotomayor was responding to a statement by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she said that she might make a better decision than a white male. O’Connor had said that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases. A woman who grew up in the days of virulent, "Mad Men' type sexism, where women were treated as inferior in every way might find Justice O’Connor’s statement rather condescending and submissive by trying to convince the boys club that a girl might be good enough to be a member. For a woman who lived in that time to say that she was not only as good, but might even be better is not racist, it is feminist.

Posted by: Rivera555 | June 2, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

There would be not contraversey if she had said "I've played tennis all my life and that gives me an advantage in judging tennis." But many people think that a puerto-rican woman judge cannot have any possible advantage in judging race and gender cases.

In the same response, Sotomayor rightly said "Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice [Benjamin] Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown."

Posted by: YoungAtheart | June 2, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I personally would like to see the new judge be of another religion then Roman Catholic. It would be nice to see a Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist or a believer of a Native American religion on the bench. It would give balance to the decisive Catholic-Christen and Jewish viewpoint that occupies the bench now. Yes western law is derived from judo-christen laws. It is not the only justice system on earth and none can claim to be the best.

Posted by: OldCoot1 | June 2, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

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