It's no longer just about racial prejudices for Newt Gingrich, if in fact it was at first, as his initial, controversial tweet calling Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" indicated. Gingrich has since walked the statement back in an e-mail to supporters, correcting his application of the word "racist" to the judge herself, rather than her words, making a more comprehensive case against Sotomayor's nomination.
The former Speaker continued to flesh out his criticism in an op-ed this morning, listing questions the White House press corps should ask Robert Gibbs about President Obama's nominee:
» "You described Judge Sotomayor's 'wise Latina woman' statement in a 2001 speech as a 'poor word choice.' How do you do you explain this additional statement from her speech: 'Whether born from experience or inherent psychological or cultural differences ... our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.' Was this also a poor word choice? And if so, which word?"
» "Democrats, including Senate Judiciary Committee member Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are circulating a 1994 speech by Judge Sotomayor in which she says this: 'Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that 'a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion in dueling cases' É I am not so sure that I agree with the statement. É I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.' "
Democrats claim that this 1994 statement by Sotomayor, from before she was confirmed by the Senate as a federal judge, proves that her views on race, gender and the law are uncontroversial. But doesn't the fact that she made virtually the same statement in two speeches seven years apart prove she wasn't simply exercising "poor word choice" in 2001? Doesn't it prove that the president was wrong when he said he was 'sure she would have restated it' if given the chance?"
» "In announcing Judge Sotomayor's nomination, President Obama mentioned that one of the qualities he looked for in a nominee was 'a recognition of the limits of the judicial role, an understanding that a judge's job is to interpret, not make, law.' In a 1996 article for the Suffolk University Law Review, Judge Sotomayor advocates a different view of the judiciary. She describes the legal system as an agent of 'radical change' and the law as 'indefinite,' 'uncertain,' and 'unpredictable.' Given the president's stated criterion for his Supreme Court nominee, do you believe that Judge Sotomayor also 'misspoke' in her 1996 law review article?"
» "President Obama has said repeatedly that 'words matter.' In 2008, Judge Sotomayor upheld a decision by the city of New Haven, Conn., to deny a promotion to firefighter Frank Ricci because of his race. Because no African-American firefighters had scored high enough on a qualifying exam to receive promotions, the city threw out the results of the test and promoted no one. Would the American people be mistaken in viewing this ruling, in light of Judge Sotomayor's repeated statements on race and gender and the law, as vindication of the president's view? Do Judge Sotomayor's words matter? Did they matter to Frank Ricci?"
All good questions. Let's hope they get asked -- and answered -- before the summer is out.