Published May 31, 2009
A prominent Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Judge Sonia Sotomayor to apologize for saying years ago that she would hope a "wise Latina woman" often would reach a better conclusion than a white man.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told "FOX News Sunday" he wasn't buying President Obama's attempt to walk back his Supreme Court nominee's controversial statement from 2001. Obama said Friday that given the chance Sotomayor would have "restated" that comment, and that she was merely trying to express how her experiences give her perspective on others' hardships.
"She didn't say that at all," Graham countered Sunday, suggesting Sotomayor's statement raises questions about her objectivity.
"What she said is that based on her life experiences is that she thought a Latina woman, somebody with her background, would be a better judge than a guy like me -- a white guy from South Carolina," Graham said. "It is troubling, and it's inappropriate and I hope she'll apologize."
With Sotomayor's confirmation set to dominate the summer months, Graham said the nominee will have to "prove" that she could give somebody like him a "fair shake" in court. He said her controversial statement suggests she feels her life experiences give her a "superiority" over others.
"I don't want that kind of person being a judge in my case," he said. But he dismissed claims from conservatives like talk show host Rush Limbaugh and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that Sotomayor is a "racist."
"I don't think she's a racist," Graham said.
Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania senator who recently switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and also sits on the Judiciary Committee, defended Sotomayor's objectivity.
"She has an extraordinary record and I believe that it's fair to ask her about the question, but she has a long solid record to show that she's fair and not biased," he said on "FOX News Sunday."
Sotomayor, who sits on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice if confirmed.