Predicting How Sotomayor Will Vote Is Difficult, Gingrich Says
July 17, 2009 - 1:44 PMFormer U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday it's difficult to tell what kind of justice U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor would become, calling her testimony this week "dramatically more moderate" than some of her recent remarks.
The Republican has drawn criticism for calling Sotomayor a racist over her comments that a "wise Latina" would reach a better conclusion than a white man without similar experiences. He has since backed away from those remarks, saying his comments may have been too harsh.
However, Friday he said he still has lingering concerns about Sotomayor after her performance at her Senate confirmation hearings this week. She's on track to become the high court's first Latina.
The 55-year-old nominee was raised in a South Bronx housing project, educated in the Ivy League and rose through the legal ranks to spend 17 years on the federal bench.
"The person who has testified this week is dramatically more moderate than the person who made those speeches," he said before delivering a speech at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. "It will be very interesting to see how she winds up as a justice."
The remarks by Gingrich, considered a potential 2012 presidential candidate, created a furor among Sotomayor's backers and caused problems for GOP figures who have been pushing to bring more diversity to the party.
He apologized again for the remarks, but said there's no telling how Sotomayor will act on the bench.
"If she turns out to vote as a justice the way she has recently testified, then people who are conservative won't have very much to complain about," he said. "If she turns out to have in fact gotten accepting by fundamentally misleading the Senate, then I think we'll have a very different situation.
"It will take us three or four or five years to figure out which Justice Sotomayor shows up," he added.
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