May 28th, 2009
10:22 PM ET
13 years ago

Top Republican calls Limbaugh, Gingrich comments 'terrible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Cornyn on Thursday said statements calling Sotomayor a racist are 'terrible.'"]

(CNN) - A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "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.”

Both the popular radio host and former GOP House Speaker have suggested Obama's pick for the high court is  a racist while referencing a 2001 speech at Berkeley during which Sotomayor said, "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."

Related: In her own words: Sotomayor's 'Latina' speech

"Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.' new racism is no better than old racism," Gingrich wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

"Here you have a racist – you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist," Limbaugh said the day before on his radio program.

Senate Republicans meanwhile have largely withheld judgment on Sotomayor, though many - including Cornyn - have taken issue with some of her past statements and rulings.

"We are all a product of our upbringing and who we are and I think it’s a fact people do have different backgrounds, but I don't think those background ought to determine what the law is," Cornyn said to NPR of Sotomayor's Berkeley comments.

The NRSC chief also brushed off the Limbaugh and Gingrich statements while noting neither man holds an elected office.

"Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it’s appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it’s wrong," he said.

Filed under: Extra • John Cornyn • Newt Gingrich • Rush Limbaugh • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Mazhar Zia

    Sotomayor is a hipocrit and a racist. Obama selected her to improve his chances for a second term. Next year Obama and his liberal extremists will be defeated and the senate will return to a balanced shape. Lets just hope we can avoid socialism thrust down our throats until then.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. David

    Yes, Gingrich and Limbaugh are a bit extreme and even occasionally off their rockers. However, their basic point is valid. Suppose a white man made a comment to the effect that he hoped that his being white and a man would somehow help him make fairer and more informed decisions, regardless of what reasoning he used to back up his statement. For bringing race and gender into the discussion, especially a currently less politcally correct race and gender, he would be mercilessly crucified by the press and whichever party the president who was nominating him was not from, whether Republican or Democrat.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  3. Judith Briles

    Racist? You've got to be kidding ... how about Realist?

    May 29, 2009 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  4. Asian Obamite

    When a dynasty falls, so too does it elite in a cesspool of moral depravity, corruption, ignorance, arrogance, and shameful self promotion.

    Alas, the dark ages are upon us when we have demagogues spewing hatred and misinformation that are believed by a significant group of people in the nation.

    May 29, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. ron

    quoted from Samuel Alito's senate confirmation " When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. " and "when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant - and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases - I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position. " so i guess they're all racist

    May 29, 2009 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. wiseowl

    Sorry, but Mr. Texas, Cornyn, knows exactly what he is doing. Again ..... he represent Texas .... the Latino vote. He knows where his bread is buttered.....Mr. Cornyn remembered voters will be @ the polls next year.

    May 29, 2009 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  7. pj

    Any of you right wing dinosaurs bother to read her actual words?

    No wonder the Re(diculous)publican party has died...

    You guys don't deserve to be a party.

    May 29, 2009 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. mhsarge, Des Moines

    If what I'm hearing and reading is correct, any person that sits on the bench, any bench, is to give up personal feelings and life's experiences just to become a judge, Were that the case then why hasn't the government come up with a super computer that knows nothing but the law in every instance and let the computer decide the letter of the law, then there could be no name-calling and back-biting like there is now and we the public could get on with our lives without listening to the bobble-heads trying to tell us how to think and live and the computer would not be the so-called "activist" that the GOP think certain people are that are on the bench.

    May 29, 2009 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  9. ShiWms n Phx AZ

    Finally someone with some sense from the Republican party speaks. Sir you sound like a Leader...

    May 29, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  10. Pat-Indianapolis

    Cornyn is well liked by hispanics in his homestate, not real surprised he took Sotomayors' side in this one

    May 29, 2009 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  11. Comyn is a loser.....

    why don't you follow Arlen Specter into the Democratic party and you too can lose all of your seniority and become a flunky at the beck and call of Obama.

    May 29, 2009 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  12. Dave of the mountains

    The Rush/Grinch Republicans don't just have a problem with just this one Latino.

    May 29, 2009 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  13. Barbara

    Such a disgrace for the world to view the nasty men from the Republican party saying mean spirited things about the new President,and trying to trash anything he does, rather than grow up and act like mature adults and show the spirit cooperation in getting our Country back to a better place.

    It was good to hear another positive voice from the Republican Party today, it would be good if many more spoke up in a positive way

    May 29, 2009 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  14. renea

    THis is all just a political show. Even if it have been a white woman this president nominated there still would have been a issue, because the republicans just cannot stand president Obama. Its not so much about who the president chose the bigger picture is with pres. Obama himself. Watch Limbaugh get an apology for what was said about him.

    May 29, 2009 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  15. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    I'm stunned he said it! Thank you Sen. Cornyn for finally stepping up and saying something. It's time the GOP tells Limbaugh & Gingrinch (and all of their ilk) to STOP it. They're NOT helping the party, and they're coming off as totally ignorant idiots. Thanks for stepping up.

    May 29, 2009 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  16. Joe

    I love watching people try to sugarcoat racism.

    In the full context of Sotomayor's comments, she disagrees with O'Connor's assertion that wise people of differing genders can come to the same conclusions.

    Admittedly, Sotomayor's first point was that no universal definition of "wise" exists.

    However, her second point, in defending her disagreement, was to state that she hopes (as in, she believes) that she can come to better conclusions than non-Latino, white men (which is who she was talking about, let's be honest).

    She meant that her experience as a Latina woman makes her capable of better judgment than white men. PERIOD.

    One may attempt to sugarcoat this, but it's just not possible.

    Sotomayor is a racist.

    May 29, 2009 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  17. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    To hell with you, Cornyn and the other members of the RNC! Rush and Newt are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

    We the People! We the People! Don't EVER forget that! You're arrogant, same 'ol stale republican "leadership"!

    May 29, 2009 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  18. Sandy

    Wow! Someone is finally standing up to Rush Limpballs! Wait, hold'll get retracted come morning. No one wants to offend the head wacko!

    May 29, 2009 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  19. Whatever...

    Some white men kill me...One vaguely controversial statement about race and you think they suffered thru Jim Crow. Where was newt when Limbaugh was referring to Obama as the magic Negro throughout the campaign. Oh that wasn't racist, No, no–that was just in jest.

    It's about high time white men learn to hear a criticism on race since they have been benefitting from discrimination and bigotry for so long. Man up and stop your effin' whining! EVERYBODY else has been putting up with racial language since like the beginning of time. What makes you guys so special??!!

    May 29, 2009 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  20. Joe

    For those urging everyone to read Sotomayor's full-context remarks, I can only agree, because the full context doesn't change the meaning of the quote in question. In fact, the full context REINFORCES the perception that Sotomayor is racist, because with the full context, we not only can read the sensational quote, but use that exact quote in order to refute O'Connor's assertion that wise men and wise women can come to the same conclusions.

    She refutes it basically by saying that she believes she can come to BETTER conclusions than those who aren't older, Latina women.

    Sorry, that's racist, and it's sexist.

    So, I agree: please, everyone, read the ENTIRE context.

    May 29, 2009 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  21. elyse

    i love how reps are even coming out and saying these peoplen't be (limbaugh and gingrich) comments should be relevent. i think these people are damaging the republican party. they are so vicious in their remarks and the american people see that.

    thank you to those republicans who do not stand behind these people.

    May 29, 2009 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  22. Jamie

    The thing that makes the statement racist in my view is the implication that someone being born a Latina will have a richness of experience that a white male can’t possibly have and that it will make their opinions “better” (key word) than that of a white male more often than not. Seems to suggest that being born a white male will put you at a disadvantage when compared to Latinas since your opinions will more often than not be worse… And why are they worse? Since you weren’t born a Latina, you didn’t get richness of experience and therefore your opinions are more often than not worse than those of the Latina. I don’t know what you call thinking/hoping your race gives you an inherent superiority over other races that they can’t overcome, but I call it racist. At least that’s how I interpret it.

    Ultimately, this seems like a single instance of bad wording on her part and I don’t really see anything else that would imply her being an actual racist. More could come out, but I’m not going on a hunt over it. As it is now, I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt. Though it would be nice to have a simple clarification at some point just to hear her say it directly.

    May 29, 2009 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  23. Jose Moreno

    I wonder if anyone remembers comments made by these two goons. In Newt Gingrich's own words: "Spanish is the language of the ghetto." Limbaugh also refered to undocumented workers as "stupid Mexicans." As a young American-born Latino man, I find both of these comments extrememly insensitive and (gasp!) racist. How do these two goons accuse someone else, who was merely commenting on how her experiences would bring a unique perspective to the court, of being a racist when these two clearly define what it means to be a racist.

    May 29, 2009 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  24. D. D.

    And we need this gentlemen speaking rather than ugly garble of the other four hateful men.Rush appears to be either losing it with Hannity and Newt appears to be joined in thought with Cheney. Those four Americans are frightening with a mic.
    How could Hannity even think President Obama would given a thought to drinking beer with him? And Rush jumping up and down reciting his own name? Newt has turned Catholic and no longer any of his pass sins or all his flaws? And Dear Old Cheney fearing people will get his Presidency legacy all wrong so he has to describe it himself?

    May 29, 2009 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  25. ike

    I'm still trying to figure out what was wrong with her comments. Certain people make decisions based on there experiences in life and therefore have a certain knowledge about things that others don't. These folks are so desperate. If you look at how the Rebublicans act...they act like starved dogs...throw a bone and they knash and naw at it. They are an ebarrasement right now..soon as Rush goes away and they find there own platform then they will be arlight.

    May 29, 2009 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
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