- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday called President Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court a racist, suggesting on his Twitter feed that her comments on being a Latina woman should force her to withdraw from consideration.

The Republican made two comments Wednesday afternoon about Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the 344,548 followers on his feed.

“Imagine a judicial nominee said, ‘My experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman.’ New racism is no better than old racism,” Mr. Gingrich wrote on Twitter, which he uses regularly to discuss politics or promote his television appearances.

A Gingrich spokesman confirmed the comments had been posted by the Georgia Republican.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the remarks as coming from a “former lawmaker” and smacking of “partisan politics.”

“It is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they decide to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation,” Mr. Gibbs said when asked about the remarks.

It also highlights the politics surrounding the woman who would be the first Hispanic justice, as Republicans are treading carefully so as not to alienate the key voting bloc.

Mr. Gingrich’s remarks immediately rocketed around the blogosphere, generating hundreds of responses on Twitter and elsewhere within an hour. Some said they agreed, while many others blasted the former speaker with harsh words.

He followed it a few minutes later with: “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

The former Republican speaker and frequent political commentator was referring to Judge Sotomayor’s 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley.

The woman Mr. Obama this week chose to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter said during the speech, “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 hasnt lived that life.”

She was making a broader point about diversity of experience as it relates to the law, but her comment has been fodder for critics of the impending nomination, and is likely to surface in the confirmation hearings that will take place in July.

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, made similar remarks on MSNBC on Tuesday night.

“Im telling you she appears to be a racist,” he said. “She said things that are racist in any other context. That is exactly how we would portray it, and theres no one who would get on the Supreme Court saying a thing like that except for a Hispanic woman.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Gibbs told reporters Judge Sotomayor has begun outreach efforts on Capitol Hill. Mr. Gibbs said she had reached out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, along with Democratic Judiciary Chairman Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont and ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

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