June 7th, 2009
10:38 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide: Criticism of Sotomayor 'kind of a sideshow'


WASHINGTON (CNN) –- A senior adviser to President Obama said Sunday that criticism of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment was a diversion that distracted attention away from her lengthy judicial record.

“I think this is kind of a sideshow,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“The point she was making is that we’re all the sum total of our experiences and you bring those experiences with you to the bench,” Axelrod also said in the interview. “It’s the same point that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Alito have made and I think that the debate is kind of a diversion from her 17-year record as judge.”

When attention is focused on Judge Sotomayor’s record Axelrod, one of the president’s closest advisers, said that Obama’s Supreme Court pick showed herself to be a fair, even-handed jurist.

“The fact is that there is nothing in her record that reflects anything but fairness and fidelity to the law and I think that’s what we want in a U.S. Supreme Court justice,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

Axelrod also said Sunday that Senate Republicans should not filibuster Sotomayor’s nomination, even though Democrats in the Senate have mounted filibusters against Republican judicial nominees in recent years.

“That would be a shame,” Axelrod said about the prospect of a filibuster against Sotomayor. “They ought to confirm her,” the Obama aide added.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. What's new?

    The Republican's have been one big side-show for the last 8+ years. They are no longer relevant but they just don't know it. They are sometimes entertaining but for the most part have destroyed our country and other nations respect for us. I am so proud and happy that Pres. Obama is taking bold steps to reverse their damage in less than 6 months. The joke is now on the critics and Republican's. Ha, Ha.

    June 7, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. makesUwonder

    Bet if a "white man" had said what Sonia Sotomayor had said it wouldn't have been a "sideshow". Just more double standard coming from the left.

    June 7, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. David in Raleigh, NC

    Sotomayor is a scary jurist. She rules on feelings and experiences of a Latina Woman instead of relying on the law as written and he constitution as written.

    June 7, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Steve Lyone

    Her judicial record does need to be examined carefully. The fact that she thinks states are free to infringe on the Second Amendment is reason enough to toss her from the bench. That particular logic was overturned and to elevate someone with such a leftist position to the US Supreme Court is simply treason.

    June 7, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Will not be stopped

    Cream always rises to the top. Judge Sotomayor’s vision, wit and intelligence will prevail. It's wonderful to be able to live to see people of color who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, worked hard, and hit the books succeed despite their circumstances, neighborhoods and lack of wealth finally becoming CEO's, Supreme Court justices and yes President and First Lady of the United States. The world is watching and appreciating.

    June 7, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Loup Garou 782

    Criticism of Sotomayor is not a "Sideshow" Sotomayor herself in person is the sideshow.
    Without a doubt, right now she appears to be the most famous of all standup comedians. Next she should graduate from Clown Academy..

    June 7, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Lynn

    Alito said the same kinds of things and the Congress also approved her twice before with the same comments having been made. It is a sideshow. The woman has incredible qualifications and will be confirmed. Just another reality tv show controversy that American politicians and media are engaged in.

    John King tried so hard this morning to get three mayors to criticize Pres. Obama's handing of the auto industry and the stimulous package. What a disppointment that all three men had such positive things to say about both!!

    June 7, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. D. Tree

    A simple question to Sotomayor's critics can end this all: where does wisdom come from?

    Think about how you would answer that if you were a senator. It comes from your personal experience, and anyone who says otherwise is simply being dishonest.

    June 7, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. TCM

    yeah it's a sideshow...because we all know the main circus event under the bigtop is the clown act Obama!

    What a flim-flam man, typical lawyer....always trying to divert attention away from something he wants to snake by

    June 7, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Nick from NH

    Sotomayor is the epitome of a rascist.. which is exactly why The Chosen One picked her, she's just like him. It's disgusting. January 1, 2013 cannot come soon enough.

    June 7, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. DaBird

    She supports Laraza which supports breaking the law. This is another indication that her race is a large issue in her mind. Combine that with her Latino comments and firefighter case, I question whether she can be objective when it comes to race.

    June 7, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Ted Tartaglia

    The party of NO has nothing to offer but criticism. Why did they not oppose Sotomayor when Daddy Bush put her on the bench?

    June 7, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. catmom

    Yes, it is a side show. Seeing the poor white male whining about racism. Gingrich, Limbaugh, Pat Buchannan, Hannity ect. going on and on when racism began at the hands of the white male. But then again I guess they would know. What are these people so afraid of? Why are they so threatened? If it weren't for the white male perpetuating racism then they wouldn't be afraid of one highly educated, experienced Latina female who has more experience on the bench than any of the other Justices. Of course it is just like the white male to diminish her education and experience the same way they do President Obama.

    June 7, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. Mike, IN

    "I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a Latina who hasn't lived that life."

    You tell me: is that statement racist? If so, how can Sotomayor's identical comment with races and genders reversed not be racist?

    I believe Sotomayor should be confirmed, despite this. But it is more than a sideshow; this is an important part of the ongoing discussion on race in America. Any group can be the target of racism and sexism, even white males. President Obama said he wanted to have a serious discussion about race, so it is disappointing that his top advisers are dismissing this issue.

    June 7, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Robb

    In justifying his vote against John Roberts, Obama said that he had no problem with 95% of Roberts' record. It was the 5% of truly difficult cases that he had an issue with. Now, that the shoe is on the other foot, he expects us to concern ourselves with the 95% of her rulings and forget about the 5% of truly difficult cases.

    Another flip-flop from the Commander

    June 7, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. sara-fl

    As a Sterotype Latin women brought up in New York I took so many raciast comments that sound all too familiar like the same ones on these blogs.
    Remember – Look not for beauty or whiteness of skin but look for the heart that is loyal within, beauty may fade and skin grow old but the heart that is true will never turn cold.

    June 7, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. pooh

    Older white men are losing their grip because nobody trust them anymore not in the us or around the world sorry but it is true

    June 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Charlie in Maine

    Like my pal James Carville says. "Politics is like the circus, and the toughest job is cleaning up after the elephants"

    June 7, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Mark

    I love reading the comments from the right. No leadership, no direction, no positvie involvement. The 'divide and conquer' tactics are over. Let's move forward together and leave the neo-cons behind, hey right-wing nuts...you've been 'Left Behind"!

    June 7, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Illinoistom

    I am confident Sotomayor will get far fairer treatment than Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas got from Democrat Senators. Watching Ted Kennedy, the chief of all hypocrites, grilling nominees is something I will not miss.

    June 7, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Will

    Have any of you critics actually looked through her past rulings or are you getting all of your talking points that she's a "racist" from Fox News.

    Do some research and then make an informed decision.

    June 7, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Bob

    You Dems can't have it both ways. You whine and moan and filibuster when Republican nominees come up, but now that it's YOUR person any criticisms/concerns must be "side show" material.

    Get real and get off your sanctimonious high horse. You are no better and no worse than Republicans. If you were even REMOTELY objective, you'd recognize that her comments, while potentially minor, have been repeated enough that they are worth discussing. Republican nominees have been grilled in the recent past for SUBSTANTIALLY less by Democrats.

    If Sotomayor was a white male and had reversed the "white male" and "latina" elements of her talking points, you Dems would be screaming to high Heaven about racism.

    The concerns are legitimate, and while they're almost certainly not going to keep her from being confirmed, they ARE worth talking about as it is THE AMERICAN WAY. Stop being hypocritical...even though it is clearly a competency of Democrats.

    June 7, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Lori

    Some rejected Republican followers are still calling Sotomayor a 'racist'. Hey guys, Rush and Newt left you guys to fend for yourselves last week when they flip-flopped on the name calling. Time to find out what their new talking point are and follow them like sheep again.

    June 7, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. Bob

    Wow. Ticker comments continue to amaze and depress me all the same time...such as:

    "Think about how you would answer that if you were a senator. It comes from your personal experience, and anyone who says otherwise is simply being dishonest."

    Try to get it through your heads, people...the issue is NOT about experience but the potential for that experience to negatively impact objectivity in the FACE OF THE LAW.

    If a rich person and a poor person come in front of a judge, and the law favors the poor person, then the judge should rule in favor of the poor person. If the law favors the rich person, the judge should rule in favor of the rich person. THAT'S THE LAW.

    The concern with Sotomayor is simply that she will NOT be objective and will let her personal experience override what IS LEGAL. Again, as numerous bloggers have pointed out, if there was even the POTENTIAL for a white male nominee to be doing this, the liberal angst, wailing, crying and hand wringing would be unprecedented...and of course the filibuster would be in full swing.

    The continued/ongoing level of hypocrisy from Democrats continues to amaze me.

    June 7, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Dems dont get it....

    Sure it is ,,,,was it a side show when Obama wanted to Block Alito?????You people speak so far out of both sides of your mouth it is crazy. You people complain how Obama is treated by Republicans but forget how you treated GW for 8 yrs and showed him NO respect. You say the Republicans are the party of NO, but you idiots forget that Democrats in the House and Senate in Congress from 2000- 2006 were the party of NO and just tried to block anything from getting anythng done including Social Security Reform and Immigration Reform while saying the Economy was so terrible even though we experienced 53 straight months of Economic Growth (More consecutive months of economic growth than President has EVER experienced) Either Democrats dont have a Memory or are really mentally disabled, or BOTH......The republicans now will show OBama the same respect you showed GW. Isnt Karma beautiful........

    June 7, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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