May 29th, 2009
06:04 PM ET
5 years ago

WH calls Sotomayor wording 'poor'

President Obama said Friday that he believes his Supreme Court nominee 'would have restated' comments she made at Duke University in 2001.
President Obama said Friday that he believes his Supreme Court nominee 'would have restated' comments she made at Duke University in 2001.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Even as the White House pushes back at Republican attacks over a controversial comment by President Obama's Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor, both the president and his top spokesman said Friday her wording wasn't the best.

"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," Sotomayor said at a university event in 2001. The remark has sparked accusations of racism from prominent conservatives like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who heads a non-profit that sent out an e-mail calling for Sotomayor to withdraw from consideration for the high court, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who compared the judge Friday to former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

In an interview with NBC Friday, President Obama said Sotomayor's point could have been more clearly made. "I'm sure she would have restated it" if she had known how it would be interpreted, he said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed Limbaugh's attempt to draw parallels between Sotomayor and Duke, but called her choice of words a "poor" one.

"I've not talked specifically with her about this, but I think that she'd say that her word choice in 2001 was poor, that she was simply making the point that personal experiences are relevant to the process of judg[ing]," Gibbs said at his daily briefing. "That your personal experiences make you have a tendency to make you more aware of certain facts and certain cases, that your experiences impact your understanding. I think we all agree with that, and that on a court that is collegial, that it can help others that are trying to wrestle with the facts of those cases."

Some members of the GOP, like National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, have said publicly that accusing Sotomayor of racism for the remark is the wrong approach for the party to take.

"This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent...." Cornyn told National Public Radio Thursday. "I certainly don't endorse it."


Filed under: President Obama • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Voter

    What about what Clearance Thomas was accused of? That is much worse than a statement – everyone has made silly statements at times, and the GOP is just losing it. They don't know how to act, what to oppose, how to deal with the fact that their party is falling apart – the extreme right is finally making moderates withdraw their support from the GOP.

    That said, I think the statement is poor, and more questions should be asked. Someone who will sit in the Supreme Court should be questioned properly to see if she will be a good judge.

    May 29, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  2. Chris W

    CNN, this article doesnt give any context to the quote?!?

    Did she just wake up one day, pop hers eyes open, grab a mic and blurt this out?

    Where's the rest of the story, who'd she say this to, what was she responding about, ect.. you know FACTS for the READER to make up their own mind.

    These articles are getting worse and worse on here, I guess I better go read about the worlds smallest cat if I want real reporting from yall!

    May 29, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  3. phoenix86

    "ib",
    you can count me there, too! Is this causing any problems in your mind? Obviously yes, but who cares!

    May 29, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. German,Irish American

    Remember Trent Lotts' comment at an old mans birthday party? He was immediately crucified by the hate spewing left and forced to resign. Yet Obama can nominate a Latino female, who makes racist remarks, for a Supreme Court Justice and everyone is supposed to turn a blind eye. Wow just Wow.

    May 29, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. LB

    Wilby: Does that make it right? Just because one person makes an idiotic statement makes this one okay? Seriously, that's your justification? She is not the one for the bench. Obama needs to accept that once again he chose incorrectly. This is getting embarassing.

    May 29, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. GOP=Grumpy Old People

    Though the comment was certainly taken out of context what really surprise me is that Rash Limpballs is using words on his daily brain wash show that only cynical hate mongers listen to like "KKK" and racism. His audience consist of guess what? KKK AND RACIST listeners go figure. This is exactly why the Republican party has and will continue to lose members. They are so biased and racist that they cannot understand why they are so hated by the rest of the world. The country is no longer WASP it has become a blend of different races and yes people make decisions based upon their experiences. White males have run this country long enough.
    CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA!!
    Get use to it.

    May 29, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. Keith in Austin

    Sottomayer's appointment is simple to understand. BHO needed to shore up his weakening political support among Hispanics. Its all about Obama folks. Little more.

    May 29, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. Tatianna

    We are dealing with a bunch of narcissistic, entitled children, because thats what the political left has devolved into. The grandiosity, smugness, brittleness and anxiety that comes with maintaining a false self-image.

    May 29, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. Mitchell Black

    We elected the most racist President to ever hold the office. Why are we surprised that he would pick someone like himself for the Supreme Court?

    May 29, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Read the full statements before you open you mouth

    This is what happens when a person/group of people that are always use to getting their way, they cry fowl when things dont get their way,the people crying dont even know what racism is except when it applies to eveyone else and they dont understand it because it has never applied to them.

    May 29, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
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