The Republican right was expected to put up a fight over President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, but the venomous reactions of conservative pundits have exceeded expectations.
All over the 24-hour news channels and talk radio airwaves, conservatives are attacking Sotomayor, calling the federal appeals judge a "racist" and a "bigot."
As evidence, media figures like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, have pointed to a speech Sotomayor gave at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1992. During the speech, she said, "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 hasn't lived that life."
Those words came as part of a discussion about the importance of judicial diversity in determining race and sex discrimination cases, but they have been widely reproduced out of context.
Glenn Beck, conservative radio personality and host of Fox News' The Glenn Beck Program, said the remark "smacks of racism." He also said:
"I don't like the charges of, 'Oh, you're a racist. They're a racist.' Very few people are racist. There are racists and they're bad people. And -- but it's -- most Americans are good, just decent people, and I hate the charges and cries of racism. But when I hear this -- I mean, gee. She sure sounds like a racist here."
Rush Limbaugh, citing Sotomayor's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano -- an affirmative action case involving the New Haven fire department that's being reviewed by the Supreme Court -- called the judge a "reverse racist" on his daily radio show Tuesday.
"So here you have a racist. You might -- you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one."
Not surprisingly, many of the same figures who are calling Sotomayor a racist also suggest that the Princeton/ Yale Law grad was nominated for the Supreme Court not on the basis of her qualifications but because of her race and gender.
Media Matters For America, the non-profit research and monitoring group, compiled a video of "racist" accusations.
Tom Tancredo Calls Sotomayor Racist (VIDEO)
Tom Tancredo, the former Colorado congressman and radical anti-immigration activist, called President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist Tuesday, telling MSNBC's Ed Shultz she has said plenty of "things that are racist."
Tancredo failed to elaborate on his claims, but he suggested Sotomayor's nomination should be blocked on account of her "racism." No one else has called her out for before, he said, because she is Latina.
"Unfortunately for her, and fortunately us, there are plenty of things that we've even talked about here already that you keep ignoring," Tancredo said. "I'm telling you she appears to be a racist. She said things that are racist in any other context, that's exactly how we would portray it, and there's no one that would get on the Supreme Court, saying a thing like that, except for a Hispanic woman and you're going to say it doesn't matter? Well, man, where are you coming from? How can you possibly say that?"
Tancredo, who ran for president in 2008 on an anti-immigration platform, is no stranger to racist comments. One of his campaign ads suggested that illegal immigrants are likely to be terrorists. Among the causes he championed while serving four terms in Congress was an effort to deport all illegal immigrants from the country and outlaw any type of immigration to the U.S. -- legal or illegal. Tancredo once sought to deport the family of a Denver high school student who was profiled in the local paper for his good grades after he learned the student was not a legal citizen.
Steele: GOP must be careful on Sotomayor
The head of the Republican Party wants his forces to watch their steps when it comes to Supreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told CNN Radio Tuesday the party that he hopes will include more Hispanics must be cautious in how it scrutinizes a groundbreaking Latina judge.
"You want to be careful," he said when asked about juggling Hispanic outreach with potential opposition to Sotomayor, "You don't want to be perceived as a bully."
Indeed, Steele was mild in his initial jabs, calling Sotomayor an "interesting pick" with "overwhelming political overtones to it." The RNC chairman listed classic conservative question marks. "We do have some reservations and concerns about her views on the second amendment, her views on abortion, her views on property rights," he said.
On abortion, Steele said his is concern is that "we don't know much about her," since Sotomayor has had relatively few abortion rulings.
But overall, the new Republican leader is calling for the GOP to avoid the explosive rhetoric attached to many Supreme Court fights.
"I think our party right now will avoid the partisan knee-jerk judgements that typically come with these things," Steele said.
The chairman followed his own advice. When asked if he agrees with some conservatives that Sotomayor is a so-called "activist judge," Steele replied: "Based on what I know, it's hard to say with a high degree of certainty."
Of all the people to show common sense...