Powell: Sotomayor nomination should not be derailed

Chris Rizo Jul. 5, 2009, 11:33am

Colin Powell (R)

Sonia Sotomayor

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -The U.S. Supreme Court nomination of appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor should not be derailed because of a ruling she endorsed in a race bias case that the high court overturned, Colin Powell, one of the nation's most prominent African-Americans, said Sunday.

In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" program, Powell called Sotomayor "a very gifted and accomplished woman."

President Barack Obama, whom Powell supported in the 2008 presidential race, nominated Sotomayor to the vacancy left by retiring Associate Justice David Souter.

"What we can't continue to have is to have somebody like a Judge Sotomayor, who is announced, and based on one simple, tricky but nonetheless case that the Supreme Court has now decided, have her called a racist or a reverse racist, and she ought to withdraw her nomination because we're mad at her," said Powell, a Republican and former U.S. secretary of state.

Sotomayor is currently a judge on the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

A case the appeals court decided found that a group of white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were not denied promotions because of their race. Sotomayor endorsed the majority opinion, which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned last week.

"She certainly has an open and liberal bent of mind, but that's not disqualifying. But she seems to have a judicial record that seems to be balanced and tries to follow the law," Powell said. "And so I hope we do have a spirited set of hearings."

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin Sotomayor's confirmation hearings July 13.

Sotomayor was nominated in 1991 by Republican President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1997, Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated her to the appeals court post she now holds.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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