Politico reported Friday that the former president said it is "not right" to label President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee a "racist."
"She was called by somebody a racist once. That's not right. I mean, that's not fair," Bush said in an interview with CNN. "It doesn't help the process. You're out there name-calling. So let them decide who they want to vote for and get on with it."
Bush said lawmakers should reserve judgment on Obama's first nominee to the nation's highest court.
"I don't know her that well, but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings," he said.
Sotomayor has been called a "racist," "reverse racist" and "racialist" by critics including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh over her statement that in some cases "wise Latina woman" may make better decisions than white male judges.
Bush appointed Sotomayor to the federal bench in 1991. Former President Bill Clinton appointed her to the appeals court seat she currently holds.