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. Rik Blumenthal

    What if I wrote, "I think a white male would make a better decision than a hispanic female?" Would you call me a racist?

    June 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Jon

    As far as Republican, Bushes or Palins are concerned. They all are living off of dreams set out by our tax dollars. They made US into a prison state and created wars and hatred among Americans and among people of the world.

    Sarah Palin can't even take a little joke off of Letterman and is using his comments for her own flight attendant imagery and public sympathy. How cowardice and low is it to take on a comedian!

    Look at Cheney, he is a neo-con but defends his lesbian daughter. What a mockery and hipocricy by the right wing freaks! Look at the things you hear Gingrich, Boehner, Cheney and Coulter say. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!!

    Conservatives are known to hate, hate and more hate. They have no value of human life or respect. Unless its their own families.

    Please let us be American first. One nation under God.
    Please take care of the immigration reform and let illegals gain rights to be here.
    Please take care of our economy.
    Please STOP fighting and let US walk into the 21st century with dignity.
    Please don't let us get stuck in the far back past.

    and mostly Please stop the wars so our beloved troops can come home and be close to their loved ones!

    June 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Walt

    Finally the old man has come out of his retirement to provide some leadership to the Republican Party when no one else could!

    June 12, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Colin

    Just some food for thought for everyone who has posted here.........What if a white male said his life experiences and emotions would help him make a better judge than a latina female? Most knuckleheads who call themselves democrats and liberals would be jumping all over that.......I want to read people's response to that.

    June 12, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Heidi

    Well he nominated her to begin with so it's good of him to defend her. My sister in law is fond of saying about HW "Listen as much to what he doesn't say about his son's presidency as to what he does say about it". The silence speaks volumes. If he really felt his son was right he would have been out there and outspoken about it I would think. Sometimes silence is golden, sometimes silence speaks volumes about how a person really feels. I cannot imagine that he agreed with his son or my guess is the whole Iraq thing would have been over by now..as HW would have given the order to go ahead and do the whole invasion. He did not, and so I have to think that he thought it was not the prudent thing to do.

    June 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. War_boi

    Marcus Tate wrote – "They chose Soto-mayor on this basis alone, and not based on merit or job qualifications..." She will be the most qualified person on the Supreme Court if she is allowed to serve. More qualified than that other white woman Scalia. Must you stutter when you blog? Why did you post your comment several times. I guess not only are you ignorant but you are not qualified to blog.

    June 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Heather

    Finally one of the ancient republicans from times past comes out of the shadows to restore a little dignity to the party and tell the kids to get in their seats. Bush Sr. may just be a substitute teacher (in that he has no more political aspirations of his own), but he's the only one out there right now who seems to realize that republicans should consider doing nothing until they come up with a plan, rather than flailing around so absurdly and harming the entire parties political future.

    June 12, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Frank

    Every time I see the old gentleman, I can't help thinking (sadly) about what he must think of what has become of the party that he represented so well for so long.

    And it must give him even greater regret when he reflects on the fact that his own son is largely responsible for what the GOP has become.

    June 12, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. Yom

    Well one thing about the Bushes... Whether you agree with their politics or not.. They always seem to be people of true class...

    Even if and when they disagree, they never lower themselves to the scum of the earth like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, etc.. that unfortunately keep getting painted as the face of the GOP..

    June 12, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. War_boi

    Rik wrote – "What if I wrote, "I think a white male would make a better decision than a hispanic female?" Would you call me a racist?"

    Yes! Definitely yes! But she didn't say that. She she said she would "hope" she could, when asked if she was as capable as her white male brethren.

    -and learn to spell Hispanic! CAPITAL like German and American...

    “I would hope that a wise black male with the richness of his experiences would…reach a better conclusion than a white trash male.."

    June 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. SMF

    If you're going to continue the quote please get it right .. She said She HOPED a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would make a better decision that a white male.

    HOPED. not that she would but she HOPED she would. Based on what I've seen from the white old men Republicans I think she MIGHT be right. One thing is certain, she could not be any worse than those white men. The demographics of this country are changing. Get over it or get out. But stop whining.

    June 12, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. marvetta

    I am glad that one of the ex-presidents stood up and said the truth. The attack on Mrs. Sotomayor, is and was not fair, she will be given a chance to explain what she meant and I believe she will be seated in the next Supreme Court seat. George Bush Sr. made an excellant statement the attacks were wrong.

    June 12, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Marcus Tate

    Hey War Boi – CNN posts what they want to post. if you don't post something 6 times, it often doesn't get posted. Far as ignorant, you already proved you are with your comments.

    June 12, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. War_boi

    Some day we will be past this identity crisis. The Supreme Court should reflect our diverse, ethnic culture. That said, we need two whites, one Black, one Hispanic, one Asian 21/2 of which should be female.

    Race is part of who we are. Soto-Mayor is Hispanic. So? She is female. So? She is a more than qualified person who can fill the position. Now that matters.

    In the aftermath of the election victory of Barack Obama, white supremacists rushed to online discussion forums to vent anger and disbelief on sites like Storm Front.

    June 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. John P

    I am a minority and I think Sonya is a racist and a bad choice. Now that I know Bush likes her, she must be a bad choice

    June 12, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. Seattle Rocks

    Kudo's to former Pres. Bush. Nice to know there is someone in the Republican party with some class. Gingrich, Limbaugh and company should take lessons from the former president.

    June 12, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Frankie the Demo

    War boi, you're an idiot. You're the one whose not qualified to be out in public. Stupid comments like you make tell all about your psyche.

    June 12, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  18. barbara campbell

    Yep, the Republicans have started to worry about an Hispanic backlash.

    June 12, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  19. Joe Terrogano

    A voice of reason from the Republicans. Think of this man and then think of Rush and Newt. Think of Collin Powell and think of Rush and Newt. It is pretty clear as to what the differences are. Mainstream versus fringe. Rational versus Histrionic . Inclusive versus exclusionary. Those who listen and support Rush and Newt are out of touch with mainstream America and that is why the Republican Party is leaderless and lost.

    June 12, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. Bill

    Thank you President Herbert Walker Bush!

    June 12, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  21. 0 for 4

    GHW Bush continues to be a first class statesman. GW Bush should speak up, too. Wait, maybe he should stay silent and not "remove all doubt."

    June 12, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  22. Mike

    Former President Bush, GHW, should just stay out of the fray. He's beginning to remind me of Jimmy Carter. I didn't vote for him for a second term because I was tired of his running his egotistical mouth. He's doing it again. Go jump out of a few more airplanes and be done with it. And please, if you're listening G.W., don't follow in your father's footsteps.

    June 12, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. Mia P

    Now Rush and the other fool what you have to say about that the the senior Bush think you all are fools, how you like those appleas I bet you all won't say nothing bad about him are your butts will be gone.

    June 12, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  24. Independent

    I'm glad more Republicans out there like H.W. are coming out and making it clear that the name calling is unacceptable and low even if they don't agree with the nomination. I find it ironic that Rush Limbaugh always refers to the left as "full of hatred" when he is the one spewing more hate in one week than I can ever hope to achieve in my whole life. I'm a white male and I find all of the GOP's "reverse racism" claims incredibly deplorable and it makes me feel like we're going back time instead of moving forward as a society.

    June 12, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  25. Peter E

    This is the president who appointed Clarence Thomas, the laziest, most partisan, most incompetent justice on the court ever. I wouldn't take his judgement on SCOTUS selections very seriously.

    June 12, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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