Kyl: Won't join Sotomayor 'racism' charge

May 31, 2009 at 2:34 PM

WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said Sunday he won't join other Republicans in calling Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor a racist.

Kyl, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be called on to confirm Sotomayor this week, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" news program that he wouldn't "get drawn" into a controversy in which former U.S. House Speaker New Gingrich and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh accuse her of "reverse racism." The accusations stem from a 2001 speech in which Sotomayor said a "wise Latina" would make a better decision than a white male.

Asserting he hasn't heard any GOP senators call Sotomayor a racist, Kyl said, "I'm not going to get drawn into characterizations before I have even met her." He added he would "read as many of her opinions and look at the decisions that she's made before I make any pronouncements."

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., however, said Sotomayor's critics have gone too far with their racism charge.

"The epithet of a racist is a terrible thing to throw around," she told CBS, adding she believes the quote was taken out of context and wasn't meant in a racist way.

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