Gingrich backs off 'racist' label for Sotomayor

June 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he shouldn't have called Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist. In a letter to supporters Wednesday, the Georgia Republican said his words had been "perhaps too strong and direct." Sotomayor (SUHN'-ya soh-toh-my-YOR') would be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the high court.

Gingrich said last week that she was a reverse "racist" who should withdraw her nomination, based on a 2001 speech in which Sotomayor said the decisions of a "wise Latina" would be better than those of a white male without similar experiences.

Gingrich conceded that Sotomayor's rulings have "shown more caution and moderation" than her speeches and writings.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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