GOP accused of Sotomayor 'racial politics'

July 19, 2009 at 4:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- Republican critics of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have played the race card in opposing the judge, a senior Democrat said Sunday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," blasted GOP opponents for employing "racial politics" as Sotomayor went through her Senate confirmation hearings last week.

"You had one leader of the Republican Party call her the equivalent of the head of the Ku Klux Klan," Leahy said. "Another leader of the Republican Party called her a bigot. To (Senate Republican Leader) Sen. (Mitch) McConnell's credit, he has not used those things, but the leadership of the Republican Party came out against her long before we ever had the hearing, long before they had a chance to look at her record. I think that's unfair."

Leahy said he was angered that Sotomayor's ties to Hispanic organizations were regarded by some as grounds for suspicion. "Come on. Stop the racial politics," he said.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., also a judiciary panel member, objected to the assertion.

"I don't think that was unfair," Sessions said. "She said that she thought she was fairly treated. Other commentators, objective leaders, civil rights leaders have said that."

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