June 13th, 2009
09:14 AM ET
13 years ago

Former President GHW Bush stands up for Sotomayor

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/12/art.ghwbush.gi.jpg caption="Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday."]

(CNN)–Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday, telling HLN Anchor Robin Meade that GOP critics who called President Obama's Supreme Court pick a racist were off-base, and unfair.

"I don't know her that well but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings. Not – [it's] like the senator John Cornyn said it," he told CNN. "He may vote for it, he may not. But he's been backing away from these...backing off from those radical statements to describe her, to attribute things to her that may or may not be true.

"And she was called by somebody a racist once. That's not right. I mean that's not fair. It doesn't help the process. You're out there name-calling. So let them decide who they want to vote for and get on with it."

High-profile Republican voices like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had both accused the judge of racism for her past comment that a "wise Latina" might make more informed judicial decisions than a white male. Gingrich later backed away from that assessment.

Cornyn had urged Republicans to avoid labeling Sotomayor a racist, calling that brand of criticism unhelpful to the process.

Related: President Bush weighs in this afternoon on his legacy — and why he won’t be writing a tell-all

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Finally, a REAL Republican speaks. Those idiots who pretend to speak for us are the true RINOs.

    June 12, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Squirt

    Spoken like the true patrician he is...last of the old school politicians. With this group of backbiters, charlatans and naysayers being brought up in today's Conservative political climate, we WILL miss him sooner rather than later, believe me!

    June 12, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. jc walters

    why do so many repubs have such a tough time being civil? Not that I am complaining, because it shows them as being so far out of touch. America is on the verge of going down the toilet and all some can do is finger-point and call people names? That's the best you have Party of Lincoln? A bunch of winers and not a clear thinker in the bunch. The party of we're going home and taking our ball with us. You make George Sr. look like Ghandi.

    June 12, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Travis In Colorado

    Happy birthday Mr. President! I wish you well on this very special day. I never got the chance to vote for you, I was too young at the time, but I would have voted for you in a heart beat. I applaud you standing up for people, but I do have to say that Sotomayor should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court. With her comments and now her saying that she is an affirmative action baby, that further proves that she should not be appointed. However, I do hope that you have a wonderful birthday, for you truly are a great man, and a great stateman! We truly need more people like you, and not the current occupant of the White House. Happy birthday again sir!

    June 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Realistic

    I have always admired GHW Bush and how he has always shown class. You see the difference between Newt and Elder Bush is, Bush has always shown class and Newt, well no class. How can he want to be president or think about it{Newt} when he is below the fray. People say he is smart but if look in his eyes, you will see anger, hostlity towards different views. I do not know who the republicans will give the nod to but i hope its not the angry, bitter old man Newt.
    And GHW, have yourself a great birthday and I hope you are around for a long time.

    June 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Gary


    June 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. War_boi

    The Republican Party is a dying breed. I am afraid to say it, but Socialism is the wave of the future. How can humans evolve further when principals such as Shock Capitalism are pushed to exploit the poor and make the rich even wealthier. All will become equal, and knowledge not wealth and power will become paramount as humans move out of protectionism and conservatism and evolve by changing hard set believes and let the old white men either retire and die off or be killed by the likes of Limbaugh who's stupidity spews from drug induced hatred for anyone not white, bald and fat like him...

    June 12, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. nora

    "And she was called by somebody a racist once." Once? Republicans and their math problems again.

    The thing I remember most about GHWB was when he was balling whenever Jeb retired. I know he was thinking "Jeb will never win anything because of George".

    June 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Kelby in Houston:

    Yes, a voice of reason, but the Democrats haven't wanted to speak with a voice of reason 15 years. Even dating back as far as I've been born there was a huge part of the Democratic party that only wants to claim racism, sexism, etc instead of trying to have a good reasoning discussion. It is now the only tactic the Democratic party uses...lies, deceipt, cries of racism, etc.

    I belong to neither party and have had it with the Republicans and religious right. But I've also more than had it with Democrats. They have labeled and prejudiced me for the color of my skin, where I live, how much I make, my religion, and everything except for who I am as long as it serves their purpose of scare tactics, inciting hatred, and inciting prejudice. While the Democrats continue to welcome extremists as the spokesmen for their party, I will never vote for them.

    June 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Bored

    The dictionary says this about "Racism":
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

    Compare to Judge Sotomajor’s comment:
    "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

    Why exactly is that "wingnut" to ask if she believes a certain race, or gender or culture is superior to another?

    June 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Terry, Dallas Texas

    I sometimes think that the people who voted for Bush 43 in 2000 were basing it on his dad's somewhat moderate views and the hope that he shared them. This man could never make it in todays Republican party as he is just not far enough to the right. It's a shame because he really is a decent man.

    June 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. edwcorey

    RR June 12th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

    "Bush Sr stand up for Sotomayor, and I bet the left wing hate machine that trolls the political ticker will find hatefull things to say about him."

    Haven't seen any on this list, but you are a great example of a semi-illiterate halfwit who doesn't know what the heck s/he's talking about. Get an education and some information, then come back with an informed opinion.

    June 12, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Allen

    I don't agree with the negative comments about Judge Sotomayor, but to attribute name calling and negativety to only the Right is ridiculous. The vitriol espoused by those on the Left is just as bad and just as wrong. The climate we live in today seems to make many people think it's OK to say such mean-spirited things, but it is not the monopoly of either side of the aisle. Anyone who thinks only one side is guilty of this behavior is deaf, naive or an extreme ideologue.

    June 12, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    @Tulsa June 12th, 2009 3:20 pm ET
    To Steve(the real one)
    It was Bush 43 that screwed the country up dummy. Get your Bushes straight
    A name calling liberal! Go figure! I WAS referring to how libs like your self will now say something kind about BUSH 41! Since is is coming to rescue Sotomayor! Based on this blog, it seems that I am correct! I know exactly what was referring to! Why don't you actually READ before making ridiculous comments!

    June 12, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Mark

    While I seldom agreed with his politics, I have always respected the elder Bush, he is a man of grace and class. So unlike his son.
    I just wonder if Limbaugh is going to throw H.W. under the bus now as not a real Republican

    June 12, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Kate in SW Fla

    I love Pappy Bush, and Laura and the twins. The rest of them? You can keep 'em.

    June 12, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Realistic

    @loretta...You called the two Bushs and Regan the best presidents. Well you are entitled to your view but the best? Regan was a good president but no where the best,my view. Bush Sr. always liked him because he had class and always approached differences with class.But the last Bush who just left office, he is no where close to being in the top, he is more close to the bottom, probably 41st.
    And if your curious what I think of Obama{which you probably not..lol}ask me in four to eight years.Cant judge someone who will be spending atleast 1-2 years cleaning the mess Bush did. If he can just clean up after Bush and decides to retire{in 4 years} from mental exhaustion from cleaning up after the mess left by Bush, he{obama} might end up in the 4th position of greaterst presidents. Anyone that can clean up the mess left behind from Bush deserves a lot a leeway in judging him.

    June 12, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. War_boi

    Arnold the Governator said it best when he said, "Rush is irrelevant..."

    Happy Birthday George. Say hello to "W" for me. Thanks for starting the inevitable decline of Conservative Politics and bleeding the Saudis of any good will favors coming to the American People in the form of Petro dollars and lining your pockets with blood money... we forgive you for neglecting the country for your sake but not for making us feel the humiliation of having a blundering idiot, like your son, lead these United States of America. Say hello to "W"...

    June 12, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Grammarian

    Some of us Democrats know Sotomayor made a comment that was bad. As an attorney, I'd be concerned about appearing before a justice who expressed herself as she did. I'd wonder whether she had a chip on her shoulder that led to biased rulings. All this was conceded by Pres. Obama, who called Sotomayor's comment a remark she probably wished she could take back. But . . . maybe this was just a detour. Maybe Sotomayor is usually better than the particular comment at issue.

    June 12, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. tigerakabj

    H.W., it's good to see a Republican with some sense.

    However, the Republicans with sense are getting kicked out of the party by Colonel Rush if you don't agree with him. Anyone who is a "true Republican" these days must call Obama a socialist, communist, far-left liberal, marxist, radicial Christian, Muslim in one breath or he/she is not fit to be a Republican.

    Don't believe me? Ask Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel, Dick Lugar and every other Republican with common sense and civility. With the likes of Limbaugh running the show (and his side-kicks of Gingrich, Hannity, Rove, etc) running the show, the Republican party is on its way out.

    June 12, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Terry, Dallas Texas: I voted for Bush in 2000 but not in 2004. I can tell you exactly why I voted for him the first time and why I did not the 2nd time.

    The Democrats didn't put up a decent candidate. That candidate was so full of arrogance. And the administration which that candidate was a part of did not take down Osama bin Laden. There had been five acts of terrorism including one on US soil that not only had Osama bin Laden taken credit for, but it was also well known the evidence pointed to him. Osama was a man I remember declaring open war on the US in 1996 with the resources and following to carry it out.

    Sadly, the priority for Bush when he came in office did not include going after Osama. It was claimed later that the handover from the previous administration briefed the Bush administration that Osama wasn't a threat.

    During the first term of Bush, he exhibited almost as much arrogance as was evident with Al Gore. Even worse, even if he was in the right, he had a habit of strong-arming other nations into supporting his agenda. He also did not exhibit the traits of a fiscally conservative president.

    June 12, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. yuri

    Grand gentle George galvanigin' the GOP with words of wisdom. You go 41!

    June 12, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. stephen Smith

    Lest we forgive. Poppy gave birth to Lee Atwater. Demon seed.

    June 12, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. cdmsr

    41 is easily the best of the bunch, in a league the current crop of GOPers can't even aspire to. It's sad to read this man - et even this stage of his life - having to hem-and-haw a bit, backtracking and watching his words. It's a habit he got into as Reagan's VP. During W's tenure, he pretty much kept quiet. He should be able to give them both barrels now.

    June 12, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. War_boi

    Rush Limp-biscuit just called Senior Bush "senile". I KNEW IT! Now that Rush Limbaugh said it it makes sense. Thank you Rush for your infinite wisdom.

    June 12, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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