Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is unlikely punching bag in GOP debate

The first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, became an unlikely target during the Republican Debate Thursday night as candidates tossed her name into the conversation while they jockeyed for political points on the debate stage.

Sotomayor, a liberal voice in the nation's highest court, has quickly become an admired idol in the Hispanic community for her journey from a Bronx housing project to the United States Supreme court. So, it was notable, during Thursday night's GOP debate that the only two Hispanic candidates running for President – Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – took aim at Sotomayor – possibly at the risk of alienating Hispanic voters.

Florida Senator Rubio first evoked Sotomayor's name in an attack against Gov. Chris Christie. Rubio accused Christie of having liberal positions, including supporting Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's handpicked Supreme Court appointee.

"Unfortunately, Governor Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood," Rubio said. "Our next president, and our Republican nominee, cannot be someone who supports those positions."

Christie flat out denied that he supported Sotomayor (even though he clearly did) in a blistering counterattack in which he suggested Rubio was a senator who gets away with "talking so much that nobody can ever keep up with what you're saying is accurate or not." 

Later in the debate, Texas Senator Cruz also mentioned Sotomayor in a response to a question about how to stop mass shootings and violent crime. Cruz lambasted Obama, accusing him of systematically going after law-abiding gun owners. 

"He appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, someone who has been a radical against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," Cruz said. 

Cruz, highlighting the importance of Supreme Court justices, said the next president is going to get to choose up to four Supreme Court appointees.

While Sotomayor has not responded to the attacks against her, Twitter users seemed to come out to support her. One person tweeted: “Sonia Sotomayor is first Latino to serve on United States Supreme Court. Not great idea to attack her, Republicans.”

Another Twitter user wrote: “The not so shuttle jabs at Hispanics by attacking Justice Sonia Sotomayor @tedcruz

Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.