NLCR Petitions Republican Leadership to denounce the character assault of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor

WASHINGTON, DC—Calling the reaction of some prominent conservative commentators and politicians to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court “an intense character assault,” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today urged Republican Party leaders to denounce the extreme rhetoric.

“Raising questions and concerns about Judge Sotomayor’s 17-year record on the bench is appropriate,” said Murguía, “but resorting to outdated stereotypes, defamation of character, and outright falsehoods is not.” Remarks were delivered today in a petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with nearly 5,000 signatures calling for an official condemnation of the charged rhetoric.

Murguía cited a number of specific reactions to Sotomayor’s nomination that launched her organization’s petition, including:

* Charges by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo that Sotomayor is a “racist” for, among other reasons, belonging to an Hispanic civil rights group (referring to NCLR, which Tancredo called the “Latino KKK”)

* Pat Buchanan calling Sotomayor a “lightweight, anti-White” judge and Michael Steele stating on CNN, “God help you if you’re a White male [appearing before the Sotomayor court]”

* Republican insiders being quoted in an article in The Hill as saying that they were “concerned that her love for ‘arroz con gandules’ and other Puerto Rican delicacies would cloud her judicial decision-making”

Murguía concluded, “We expect the confirmation process of Judge Sotomayor to be fair, constructive, and instructive, and we need Republican Party leadership to step up to the plate to ensure that this happens.”

Marie Watteau

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