July 19th, 2009
07:41 PM ET
14 years ago

Leahy on Sotomayor: 'Stop the racial politics'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor should be judged on the merits of her 17-year judicial record and the week of confirmation hearings that just ended rather than on suspicions about her racial allegiances.

“You had one leader of the Republican Party call her the equivalent to the head of the Klu Klux Klan,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Another leader of the Republican Party called her a bigot,” Leahy added, later explaining that he was making reference to comments by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

After Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Republican on the committee, referred to Sotomayor’s past involvement in the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Leahy again suggested that some Republicans were being unfairly critical of Sotomayor.

“I hope we don’t go back to the day when we used to have African-Americans up for confirmation and say ‘Yes, but you belong to the NAACP so, you know, we’re really suspicious of you,’” Leahy said CNN’s State of the Union.

“C’mon, stop the racial politics,” Leahy added.

Leahy remarks drew an immediate response from Sessions.

“Oh, c’mon, Pat. I’m going to disagree on that,” Sessions said.

“No but that’s the way it comes across . . . It comes across - if you belong to a group that tries to help Hispanics, help them in school, help them in other things, somehow you’re suspicious. The same arguments were used against Thurgood Marshall and others. I think it’s wrong,” Leahy said.

“I want to correct something,” interrupted Sessions. “No Republican leader said she was a bigot. You’ve overstated that. There’s nothing wrong with us asking her about the personal views about positions – legal positions – that she took as the member of an organization. That’s a normal thing to do. I don’t think that was unfair.”

soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. indy

    Why is it racist to question her beliefs and actions while a memeber of a particular group? Why is discussion such a bad thing now. I believe most of the Republicans have conceded she will be elected, so where's the problem? If they disagree with her beliefs or opinions, they are entitled to that. Isn't that the reason we hold elections? Wasn't one of the complaint about the last administration that there was no dissent, no opposing opinion? I guess the lesson is it's okay to be like that as long as it's your opinion.

    July 19, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. Poker_Person

    Racial politics played a key roll in Obama gaining the democratic nomination and then the presidency. It also helps explain why most people in power, democrats and republicans, will not call this guy out on his radical behavior. We all suffer when race is used to sway our decisions.

    July 19, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. T Mckinley

    Republicans would never bash hispanics, would they?

    BTW, who is this Pat Buchanan I keep seeing on MSNBC. Which political party does he belong to?

    July 19, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Larry

    Why are more politicians concerned with party loyalty rather than country loyalty. It seems to me that our representatives do injustice to those of us who are a majority of the Unied States (middle class and poor people). I am disgusted with all the negative remarks from some media people and elected officials (republican and democrat) who continue to complain but offer no real suggestions to help our country. Any intelligent person can understand why we need to do the right thing to improve our greed driven health care system. I hope that the people of our country wake up from the deep sleep we seem to be in and understand that we are not being well served by our representatives when their interest are lying in bed with the very people they should be protecting us from.

    July 19, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Deb

    You have to be kidding. A Democrat is accusing the Republicans of being harsh??? What nominee did the Democrats let slide through?? The Democrats have an unbelievable ability to re-write history. I just can't stand it.

    July 19, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. Leahy should resign

    Keahy should resign. He is a career beauracrat and one of the worst partisan boors in DC. He has filibustered Republican nominees in the past, and has bad mouthed anything from the GOP. Leahy is a reverse bigot and racist and he has been trained by Pblamo to race any way he can. A donky would do a better job than Leahy. He could return to the mountains of Vermont

    July 19, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    NevadaGeorge: read the whole comment, not just the cherry picked section. Thank you. (Anyone else sick of hearing about this stupid comment in light of the abuse this woman was put through last week?)

    I found the whole process offensive, as a woman, and it made me cringe. After it was done, I felt battered for Judge Sotomayor, emotionally. I don't understand how the media could talk about how respectful the Republicans who questioned her were. They were condescending, bullying, and bigoted. And these are our representatives, folks. Kind of makes you proud, huh?

    July 19, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. George Washington

    i am black and white and arab and aisian and spanish and european. who can I whine to?

    July 19, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Bob

    I would like to remind both the Republicans and especially the
    Democrats that we Independents are now the largest voting
    group in the country. I personally am very concerned about
    SSs ability bo be an impartial SC justice.

    July 19, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. Ken, Arizona

    It's laughable when a republican says that Democrats can't think for themselves. There hasn't been a new idea from the GOP camp since Ronald Regan.

    July 19, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    @Jack – not so fast. I'm white. I not only voted for Obama, I volunteered during his campaign, and most of the people I worked with there were white, right here in suburban Atlanta. It's only a small cross-section of the whole country, but kind of blows your theory.

    July 19, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. T Mckinley

    Aw, come on. Republicans would never bash or disrespect hispanics, would they.

    BTW, would was this Pat Buchanan guy who gave a speech at the 1992 RNC convention? And who was this guy "Jose" he kept talking about? He didn't seem to like this "Jose" fellow very much.

    July 19, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. Georgia

    Sessions is a DOLT! You can see why he didn't make it through the process years ago. And Gingrich has the eloquence of the creature of his first name – a Newt!

    July 19, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. yoyolite

    I am still trying to understand why , blacks votin g for Obama is racism. Blacks have always voted for whites. Whites vote for whites. Blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic regardless of the candidate's color. Saying that all blacks voted for obama because he is black is not true. As for Clarence Thomas, if you were to poll blacks, he is not a favorable brother because of his ideology. He garners little support in the black community. Just because one is black does not mean he IS BLACK.

    July 19, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. MillerJ

    Gee yet another blog slamming the Republicans. Give it up CNN, MSNBC has a corner on the socialist lib market.

    July 19, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Duane

    First off I'm a Republican and I am neither old or racist!!!! It saddens me that one group of people chose to be so divisive and hate filled as the people who claim to be the most tolerant. What you practice is not tolerance. It is the most hate filled, vile sewage I have ever heard in political discourse. And 99% of it comes out of the Democrat party.

    Strange that a party that claims to be for minorities will put down a black Republican. Yet let someone sy anything disparaging about a black Democrat and that person is labled a racist. The same goes for Republican women, they are put down and called stupid. Yet if a Democrat woman is talked about that way the person is a sexist.

    Talk about hipocracy!!!

    July 19, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. babs, from california

    I have heard all of this over and over again and I still can't find the bigotry in her comment about being a wise latina women. This was a self description. Like "strong black woman" . was it a secret that she was latina? I'm so over it. people will pick anything apart to find dirt. I guess they just don't have enough dirt of thier own to wallow in.
    can we move on now? this is starting to give my a palin headache.

    July 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  18. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    NEWT needs to move to a third world dictated country and see how long his mouth over runs his ass .before he gets it shut .

    he must think everyone has forgotten about all the crap he pulled while being speaker of the house . most every thing he says about the Judge is a mirror of his own ideas of humanity

    another simple jerk of jerks

    July 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  19. Jerry

    The Republicans are so worried that she might have an "agenda." Take a look at Chief Justice Roberts. i believe in every criminal case before the Court since he has been Chief Justice, he has sided with the prosecution. No agenda? Give me a break.

    July 19, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  20. jean (Plantation, FL)

    Judge Sotomayor should have stood behing her liberal views the same way that Justice Robert stood behind his conservative views during his confirmation hearing. Democrats are just a bunch of cowards. When Republicans know they have enough senators to vote on something they don't bend to democrats. Democrats had enough votes to confirm Judge Sotomayor had republicans decided to vote against her. It doesn't matter who voted, she would still be a Supreme Court Justice. Democrats had no reason to bend for the republicans because their votes are worthless. They can't even fillibuster. They were just talking the talk. Cheap talk, that's all.

    Next time, I hope democrats will nominate an activiist liberal judge who can stand for all liberals just as republicans nominate activist conservative judges who stand for all conservatives. I think liberals need a voice in the Supreme Court as well.

    July 19, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. Denverguy

    It is funny when all the republicans were following George Bush off a cliff, the rest of the country woke up and saw the hypocrisy of the GOP. Now out of power, Sessions and Newt and the rest of the party have turned to" do as I say but no as I do".

    July 19, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  22. E.C.Coleman

    Leahy is dead WRONG.

    It is Sotomayor who, HERSELF, has introduced RACIAL POLITICS, as well as the person who supports such.

    Sotomayor should NOT be confirmed, for she is NOT telling the truth about her True Opinions and says ONLY what she 'thinks she should say to be Confirmed.'

    Plus, Sotomayor did NOT answer ONE QUESTION.

    How does one KNOW WHO SHE IS AT THIS POINT??????

    Sotomayor avoided and evaded all Pertinent and Important Questions posed her.
    Sotomayor is Completely Unqualified to be on the Supreme Court.
    Sotomayor should NOT be confirmed.
    Sotomayor has by her own inadequacy shown to the World that she is NOT qualified.
    Plus, her Temperament is Not suitable for a seat on the Supreme Court for life.

    July 19, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. Siggy

    It was quite the spectacle watching a bunch of well off Republican old white guys lecture an accomplished Latina woman about racism and racial politics. What's amazing is they had no idea how stupid and out-of-tough they looked. I'd be embarrassed for them all if I hadn't already expected it.

    July 19, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. Yahbut

    Senator Leahy is right about not judging people by their race and treating them fairly. But I think that he should take a good look in the mirror before he opens his mouth.
    I guess he would rather have people forget the shameful way that nominees in the Bush administration were treated by democrats.
    Judge Sotomayor was treated very gently in comparison. I do not care about her gender, race, religion. I only care about other cases of hers that I have read about. For instance, the one that really upsets me is the opinion that she gave in the case of the New Haven firefighters. That was absolutely shameful and disgusting. Those men were denied promotion for one reason and one reason only and that is their race. So what is Senator Leahy talking about when he says that he hopes that we don't go back to make decisions on race. That is what Judge Sotomayor actually did.

    July 19, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. Post always rejected by CNN

    Wonder what the pugs would have done if the democrats had pounded and flamed alito and roberts the way they are flaming and slurring Sotomayer.

    July 19, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13