President Barack Obama on Friday personally sought to deflect criticism about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge.
“I’m sure she would have restated it,” Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.
The quote in question from Sotomayor has emerged as a rallying call for conservative critics who fear she will offer opinions from the bench based less on the rule of law and more on her life experience, ethnicity and gender. That debate is likely to play a central role in her Senate confirmation process.
Said Sotomayor in 2001: “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 white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
After three days of suggesting that reporters and critics should not dwell on one sentence from a speech, the White House had a different message Friday.
“I think if she had the speech to do all over again, I think she’d change that word,” presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
I am actually taken aback from the White House rushing to Judge Sotomayor’s defense. Her nomination appeared to be heading toward an easy confirmation with Republicans treading carefully around the issues of her Hispanic race and affirmative action.
Perhaps the White House noticed some softness in her polling.
Quinnipiac polling reports, “American voters approve 54 â€“ 24 percent, with 22 percent undecided, of President Barack Obamaâ€™s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
I have no illusions that Sotomayor will not be approved by a majority of the Senate, barring some earth-shattering revelations, but doesn’t that 54 percent seem a little low? Obama’s job approval is in the mid-50s to the mid-60s; wouldn’t one expect that if you’re an Obama fan, you’re pretty much on board with the pick? Are there any pockets of Obama supporters who are wary or disappointed with this selection?
Flap’s antennae have now been raised.
Will some scandal drop this weekend?
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