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 โ€” and why he wonโ€™t be writing a tell-all

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

    This was the last POTUS that had true integrity, ethics, or values worthy of being called president. The last 3 have been immoral buffoons with the following of a radical electorate that thinks with emotion rather than reason.

    June 12, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. John Marshall

    The Republican who put Souter on the SCOTUS long ago destroyed his own credibility. He should be ashamed to speak about SCOTUS.

    June 12, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. m smith

    Isn't amazing to see some dignity in the republican party. Remember how it use to be ? One thing about George #1 he was not a hate monger and ran a pretty good campaign compared to the current crop. They should take a lesson from him

    June 12, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  4. Samuel

    To Steve in MIch---How's the economy going up there in the Detroit area and the whole state for that matter with the Democratic leadership in place?

    June 12, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Moe NY

    First time I ever agreed with a Bush. I am leaning towards Sotomayor too, just hope she will not trample on women's rights...that is my main concern.

    June 12, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. 2manyhorses

    The reason so much vitriol has been hurled at Dumbya is not just partisan politics as usual.
    His administration completely wiped out a budget surplus and left us totally bankrupt – financially and morally.
    He started a no-end, no-win war that has thrown the Middle East into even more turmoil than before and directed the rage of the entire Muslim world at the US.
    He also left us alienated from all of our former allies (except the brainless puppet in the UK) and the laughingstock of the world.
    This one man has done more damage to our country than any nation or group of terrorists ever could.
    This is why criticism of Obama is no where near the level of the criticism that Dumbya has encountered, and will continue, to receive. He is simply the most destructive president we have ever had.
    I feel sorry for his father who at least had intelligence and discretion to his credit.

    June 12, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. mw from md


    If you bothered to do any research you would learn that Sotomayor has more years on the Federal bench than any of the current
    Supreme Court justices. She is MORE than qualified.

    June 12, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  8. Tatianna

    Why are the lefties so angry? They are angry and scared because they have a sense that their triumph is a precarious one. Dems won in 2006/2008 in some part because of the cycles of American politics, reps were exhausted/corruption/scandals and Americans wanted to give dems the power to do what they said they could do for the betterment of our country. Now, having won, they are unsure of how long their victory will last. They see that they have a very small window of opportunity to do all the things they want, because they know in their deep dark hearts that the vast majority of the American people wouldnt go for all the things they want to do. So they are frantic to do as much as possible before the opposition coalesces and the tea parties might be the beginning of that coalescence

    June 12, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  9. Tracy

    I listened to her whole speech. My understanding when listening to the speech in its entirety was that she, as a Hispanic woman, is a better judge of the needs of Hispanic women than a white man. When you pull the one sentence from the context of the entire speech, it sounds racist. But when put in the context of which she was speaking, it changes the meaning of the sentence.

    June 12, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. Rodney from Indy

    For those of you who don't remember, George Sr. lost because of his televised statement: "Read my lips. No new taxes." Then, he went back on his word, and raised taxes anyhow. Then his son came in and continued to cut taxes even against the advice of his own people, because of his "daddy," then went after Saddam partly, because, "he made death threats against my daddy." The Bushes are truly like Billy Zane's character in Titanic – they truly believe their kind is better than everyone else, and we are worth nothing except fodder to keep them in their lifestyle. The sad part is that so many Americans hide behind racism and fear of change by voting for these old establishment, Ivy League preppies, who have never done anything for them. The only other issue used to vote for these guys is abortion. While I understand it is a painful, complex issue, no one should vote for someone based on one issue. Ever. I would not vote for Charles Manson simply because he would legalize marijuana. Nor did I ever vote for Bush.

    June 12, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  11. Ronald Schwartz

    Sotomeyer is anti second amendment and so is Obama, I had to quit reading the comments. it sounds like CNN these people are all to young or dumb to know they are giving up all the freedom it took over 200 years to get ad fight for. the lady has problems and Obama has worse ones he's rather run companies then countries, Wait and see you'll be crying by 2010

    June 12, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  12. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    This is an opportunity to admire a man that I didn't often agree with.
    I don't think that ANYONE should give her a pass, but give her the chance you wanted for your candidates... If she's another Harriet Meyers, we'll see that soon enough, but I don't think she is.
    What she said could have been BETTER said, but, in the context of her whole speech, it made sense.

    We ALL misspeak. If that's all you have on her, vote her in and let her get to work.

    June 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. Mario in Texas

    Yom, the only Bush that has class is George Sr. Mrs. Bush lost the respect of many an American when she commented on the living conditions of the Katrina evacuees whom were relocated to the Houston Astrodome. She said in effect that the evacuees whom were staying at the Astrodome had better living conditions in a cramped baseball stadium than they did back home in Louisiana.

    June 12, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. Gary

    I actually like that Bush family. Old George and Barb, Laura, Georgie, Jeb, even the Bush daughters. Even if you don't agree with them, they discuss the issues and don't personally attack their opponents. Maybe some day Jeb will want to run for President.

    June 12, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  15. malclave

    CNN calls this a "slam" of the criticism?

    Your editors need editors who actually understand language.

    June 12, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. Yoshi99

    This whole "what would you say if I said I hoped a wise white man blahdeblah" is such a colossal red herring. Why? Because most politically correct folks would say, "I think back to the time when I was X years old, and my daddy told me Y, and I've held that principle near and dear to my heart my whole life and that's why blahdeblah."

    All the conservatives are cranky about is that Sotomayor wasn't PC enough. Interesting how quickly they started waving the PC flag, eh?

    June 12, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  17. roberto

    I guess all the good natured Republicans left when George did. The remaining ones are imploding.

    June 12, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  18. red state Tenn

    Thanks for your good words GHW Bush. And to that no one can say a sweet apple like W did not fall for from the tree.

    June 12, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  19. Carrera911

    A true politician and public servant. An absolute class act. GHB represented the real republicans and its ideology. Steele, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Cheney are disgrace to their party and this country.

    June 12, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  20. Zach K

    I thought Pappy Bush had a Mediocre Presidency, but I agree with him on this statement.

    The GOP ain't what it used to be. You tell them Bush 41! ๐Ÿ˜€

    June 12, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  21. Jon

    She was picked because she filled in two of Rahm Emmanuals boxes, she's a woman and she's Hispanic. It's racial politics, plain and simple. What else would you expect from Obama and his "empathy" theory of constitutional interpretation?

    June 12, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  22. fortydammer

    Gingrich, Rush, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ann Coltergist. Now that is a lineup the GOP should be real proud of. They are taking the party down, and destroying America. And the sad thing about it is they have convinced many narrow minded individuals to perpetrate acts of violence and hate. I cannot go through the day without hearing a dim witted statement about Obama or something else that sprouted from these folks above. Can't the GOP followers see that they make a living by stirring up hate.

    June 12, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  23. Bob Sacamano

    This Bush actually seems to have a brain what happened to his son?

    June 12, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  24. ANNY

    Daddy Bush is a smart and wise man.......I am a democrat but I voted for him, the GOP has forgotten their Roots, they have let the far right religous take over their party and in doing so they are flushing themselves down the sewer

    June 12, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  25. Cary C.

    Since George H W Bush left office, a lot has left the Republican party. Its decency, honor, and elegance.

    June 12, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
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