WASHINGTON – President Obama's attempts to tamp down the sparks that flared from controversial remarks made by his Supreme Court selection appear not to have worked as Sunday two prominent Republican senators who will eventually pass judgment on Sonia Sotomayor expressed strong concerns over the words Sonia Sotomayor used in a 2001 speech saying she hoped a wise Latina woman would make better conclusions about the law than a white male.
President Obama clearly bothered by the adverse reaction to Sotomayor's comments that have almost overshadowed her judicial record said on Friday that if given the chance, Sotomayor would use different words to express her views on the significance of her Puerto Rican heritage on her jurisprudence.
But on Sunday, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) steadfastly expressed the troubles they continue to have with the speech. "It is troubling, and it's inappropriate, and I hope she'll apologize," Graham said on Fox News Sunday.
Sessions, who leads the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it will be something he will bring up Tuesday when he meets with Sotomayor behind closed doors. "I think it's something we need to probe," Sessions told NBC News. "I think it goes against the great heritage of American law that calls for judges to be a neutral umpire."
Sotomayor's lengthy Cal-Berkley Law School speech titled “A Latina Judge’s Voice” was part of a symposium about Hispanics and the law. She spent considerable time describing her upbringing and how being a Latina was the byproduct of a shared experience with others similarly situated and not a given of birth.
Drawing the most fire are comments Sotomayor made about how "our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging." With that in mind she said "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a while male who hasn't lived that life."
On Sunday, Graham exploded with outrage. "What she said is that based on her life experiences, that she felt a Latina woman, somebody with her background, would be a better judge than a guy like me, a white guy from South Carolina."
For his part, Sessions did not endorse the vitriolic comments some in his party have made including Rush Limbaugh's belief that Sotomayor is a racist. Nonetheless, he said he looks forward to Sotomayor explaining to him exactly what she meant to say and believes.