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. jeremy

    well said....with age comes wisdom

    June 12, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  2. Daniel, Atlanta, GA, ex-republican

    The Bush Family are decent people. I think they actually support President Obama, which is honorable.

    June 12, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  3. Bertina

    Altho' I am a democrat, I do respect George H.W. Bush for backing Judge Sotomayer since he appointed her originally. It seems some of these so called republicans are just looking for anything they can say or do to hurt Obama. Speaking of hate, the man who shot the guard at the Holocaust Museum is definitely a hater, but, some of these hate speeches that politicians are making and also talk radio show hosts, are misleading and there are people who believe this trash. That is enough to stir up all kinds of hate crimes and violence. The venom just drips out of Ann Coulter's mouth, and Rush Limbaugh shouldn't be allowed to be on public radio. He and Bill O'Reilly should find themselves a cage somewhere and compete with each other. There is all kinds of violence and terrorists and hate in this country. People need to start wising up.

    June 12, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. Michael, Gallatin, TN

    The past couple of weeks have reminded me a little of the final days of Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy. Like Limbaugh, McCarthy was an addict, in his case an alcoholic not a pill head. Like Limbaugh, McCarthy used his position to bully those who didn't mirror his perverted vision of what the United States is all about. And like Limbaugh, otherwise sensible Republicans, elected office holders and average people, came to fear him. After years spent challenging the patriotism of others and destroying the careers of those who dared to challenge him, voices began to be raised against his brutishness. First one, then another, and eventually nearly the entire Senate rose up against him and showed him for what he was. Limbaugh and company should take heed. Their days are numbered.

    June 12, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. Joanna

    Its about time a respectable ADULT republican spoke up. All this nonsense name calling and false labeling and terror needs to stop people! There is nothing wrong with a to party system, that is how we get good policy, through HONEST debate. Honest being the key word here.
    I think this Judge is very moderate slightly leaning to the right actually. Look at here decisions.

    June 13, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  6. Keefe

    Rush Limbaugh needs to be purged from the Republican rank and file immediately.......

    June 13, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. Drew

    Mr. President...you truly are a class act....and....as an Obama supporter...your son has shown your class in the transition effort and in his silence concerning criticism of President Obama....as much as I disagreed with his and some of your policies....you both have proven to be true statesmen in the truest since of the word...Happy Birthday Mr. President!!!

    June 13, 2009 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  8. David

    Every now and then see some bits an pieces of class from this IDIOT family that wont go away! Boy they've gotten rich off of America!

    June 13, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  9. Proud American

    It's still hard for me to believe that him and barbie has little Georgie..

    June 13, 2009 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  10. Jim, Honolulu

    I don't know why the millions of we Republicans who are moderate continue to hang around in a party that not only violently disagrees with our views but consistently disrespects us, indeed pours huge volumes of hate our way. Already millions have deserted the party, and all that is left is a hardcore right-wing fringe bent on killing abortion doctors and shooting security guards at national institutions. Unfortunately, as Sotomayor proves, the hate continues to flow, and we increasingly risk becoming a minor regional party.

    June 13, 2009 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  11. Carl

    Whatever you may think of the Bush family...George H.W. Bush is a class act. His son, George W. Bush, has remained silent since Obama took office...preferring not to criticize his successor. Bush 41 did the same for Bill Clinton. This stands in contrast to Dickless Cheney who will expend his last breath defending himself and the Bush administration against charges of war criminality...

    June 13, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  12. Ernie in LA

    It's really funny that whenever a repub ( HWBush or Megan McCain) just happens to agree with you dems, they are just really great people all of a sudden.

    June 13, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  13. Josh Maloney

    Way to go, Mr. President. Thank you for sticking up for Sotomayor.

    June 13, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  14. DaBird

    CNN talking about Republicans and not addressing Obama firing the investigator looking at Sacramento mayor AND friend KJ. Corruption and CNN won't print it.

    June 13, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  15. ROC

    41st and 43rd = Failure, Bankruptcy, Cronies enrichment, Illegal wars, manipulation, scare tactics and plunder.

    Thanks but no thanks - we don't need any support from the Bushes.

    June 13, 2009 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  16. Ned

    " If they had chosen a white guy only because he was a male and white, there would be screams of outrage. But this "reverse racism" is OK??"
    Actually, Marcus Tate, many of us opposed the confirmation of Justics Roberts on ideological grounds, but we did not say it was racist of Bush to nominate him. But here's the flaw in ytour thinking: You assume that a nomination of a minority can be for no other reason than "reverse racism." But you assume that if a white male is nominated, THAT nomination is based on no bias. Isn't it just as possible that those nominations were made based on race/gender also? The logical end of your position is that no one other than a white male may edver serve on the court because the nomination of anyone else must be the product of bias. What kind of crazy logic is that?
    By every imaginable objective citerion, Sotomayor is as qualified as any justice now serving - and more qualified than some. Look into your heart and ask yourself what REALLY bothers you about her.

    June 13, 2009 12:49 am at 12:49 am |

    you can call the Bushes a lot of things but RACIST is not one of them. Although I wasn't a fan of Bush the President, I always did have admiration for Bush the man and Mrs. Bush as well, BOTH Mrs. Bushes. Some of the far right GOPers could learn a thing or two about how to treat people from the Bush family and I think part of the problem is that the Bushes just aren't as far right as that group would really like for tem to be.

    June 13, 2009 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  18. Kenux

    Marcus Tate needs to understand that Bush did not start the Iraq war. The United Nations asked the United States to be the leader in a coalition to get Saddam out of Kuwait. He did just that with the approval of Congress. It was a 100 day campaign. He also sign all those tax bills because that's what a responsible president is suppose to do when there was a war. Unlike Bush junior who refuse to raise taxes and keep debt spending...weird, that's something the Democrats would do. Think Bush junior was in the wrong party...

    June 13, 2009 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  19. chris c

    While I agree with 41, there is something called the 1st Amendment. People can use any words they want.

    June 13, 2009 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  20. mypitts2

    Now Rush and Cheney will say Bush 41 should leave the party (or has already left the party). And Michael Steele will say it's all good. "You know how we Republicans do!"

    June 13, 2009 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  21. Dee

    Thanks President Bush!!! Finally a 'real' leader steps forward. I am an independent but this is why I voted for President Bush Sr.

    The current bunch are a bunch of has-been morans; some recycled, some will not go away and blow bag Limbuagh is too afraid to run for office b/c we know what would happen; he is like that school yard bully tough until he really gets called out for a beat down

    June 13, 2009 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  22. Brook Mantia

    Oh man, what a blast from the past! Now I really feel old...

    Remember back in the days when grown-ups could disagree vigorously, and still do it with dignity and style? Oh to bring back witty repartee' and intelligent debate, with civility and mutual respect.

    I'm no fan of Bush 41, but his rational, reasoned remarks really highlight how shamelessly immature and ignorant the public discourse has become.

    June 13, 2009 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  23. Butch Dillon

    When President Bush feels obliged to stand up for Sotomayor against the cheap criticisms coming from his own party, it becomes obvious how deeply disjointed the Republicans have become. Can't wait to hear the reaction from the sex tourist blimp Limbaugh and loser Newt. Dare they attack GHWB?

    June 13, 2009 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  24. john

    George Bush Sr was a great president and vice president. His foreign policy was top notch compared to those who have followed him. He made a judgement call to pay off the debt from the Savings & Loan scandal. That hurt him in the short term in terms of a mild recession, but it helped the country in the loan term. Bush was very carefull with the budget and that hurt him as he had to break his no new taxes pledge. He was in and out in the Gulf war. He didn't want any part of occupying Iraq. 16 years after leaving office Bush Sr looks like a far better president than the one Clinton trashed on the campaign trail in 1992. Germany re-unified under Bush and millions of people were granted freedom in eastern europe. George Bush Sr was a far better president than Clinton or his son. Bush may get overshadowed by Reagan in history, but he was vp during those years and probably had more to do with that than people give him credit for.

    June 13, 2009 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  25. Eric

    Ignorants. Being hispanic and/or latino(a) is not a race issue. It's a cultural issue. Hispanics/Latino(a)s come in different races (e.g white, black, yellow, brown, etc.). Another sign of the our poor educational system.

    June 13, 2009 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
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