Is Sotomayor a Racist?

Prominent Republicans think the candidate Barack Obama has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, is a racist.

Switch “Latino woman” with “white man” and you have a quote that would be called racist, prominent Republicans say. The quote they are referring to is from a speech judge Sonia Sotomayor held in 2001: “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.”

Former House majority leader and potential 2012 Republican candidate Newt Gingrich blogged: “A white racist man would have to pull out. Female Latino racists should also pull out.”

Conservative commentators have followed suit. On Fox News – the TV channel of the right – there was a flurry of remarks like “revolutionary radical” and “reverse racism, but this time projected against whites.”

The political struggle over the nomination to the U.S. Supreme court is in full swing. The right claims that this shows that the U.S. will get a judge that will not interpret the law, but has her own political agenda. The debate surfaces, in one shape or form, every time judges are nominated to the Supreme Court. So far the White House has not delivered a great defense of Sotomayor.

As a columnist in the Washington Post noted, the president’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not seem well prepared for the flurry that the old speech has launched. Yesterday the newspaper wrote that Gibbs could have gotten away with quoting from the same speech where Sotomayor says that “we must not be as near-sighted as to believe that others with other experiences or backgrounds cannot understand the values and needs of other groups.”

The childless, divorced Catholic Sotomayor is thought to be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and probably against the death penalty. But those who have analyzed her nearly 20 years of judging say she is predictable.

Sonia Sotomayor is the first American with a Latino background nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. A court that since the start has been dominated by white men.

She is also the third woman. This imbalance in the court has been criticized for a long time. When President Barack Obama had the opportunity to nominate a judge, he chose to nominate the first so-called Hispanic for this job, something that is very popular amongst the increasing group of Americans with this background.

When he started looking for a candidate, Obama also underlined that he wanted someone who knew the life of the average American; Sotomayor grew up in humble beginnings in the Bronx in New York.

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