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Sotomayor: Identity politics is back?

The Washington Post covers the Sunday show discussion on Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination. "Republican senators voiced skepticism yesterday about President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, but avoided the name-calling that has come from some conservative activists," who have called her a racist. "'I don't think that's an accurate description of her,' said Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee."

"Sessions agreed on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that Sotomayor's record -- former prosecutor, corporate lawyer, 17 years as a federal judge, at both the district and circuit levels -- is 'the kind of background you would look for, almost an ideal mix' of experience for the Supreme Court. 'That's very strong in her favor,' he said. But he said he and other members of his party are concerned about speeches Sotomayor has given about a judge's decisions being affected by life experiences. 'It goes against the heart of the great American heritage of an independent judge,' he said."

But as the AP's Elliott writes, "Republican Senate leaders won't call Sonia Sotomayor a racist. But they're fine with Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich playing the race card to rile up an out-of-power GOP."

The Sunday New York Times looked at how Sotomayor's SCOTUS nomination has thrust identity politics into the spotlight. "In the heat of his primary battle last year, Barack Obama bemoaned 'identity politics' in America, calling it 'an enormous distraction' from the real issues of the day. Many thought his inauguration as the first African-American president this year was supposed to usher in a new post-racial age. But four months later, identity politics is back with a vengeance. A president who these days refers to his background obliquely when he does at all chose a Supreme Court candidate who openly embraces hers. Critics took issue with her past statements and called her a 'reverse racist.' And the capital once again has polarized along familiar lines."

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, President Obama didn't shirk from Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" remark: "I'm sure she would have restated it," Obama said. "But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through - that will make her a good judge."

Sunday's Washington Post looked at Sotomayor's controversial ruling in that New Haven firefighter case. "It is the 134-word summary order in Ricci v. DeStefano, which upheld the decision of New Haven, Conn., to throw out the promotion test it had given city firefighters when no African Americans and two Hispanics qualified for advancement."

"The case is under review by the Supreme Court that Sotomayor would join. If the decision is reversed -- which, from the tone of oral arguments in April, seems a distinct possibility -- the high court's ruling will probably come at the end of June, just as the Senate and the nation begin to consider Sotomayor's qualifications."

Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said Sotomayor's not a "racist" but he expects her to make an apology for her remarks during her confirmation hearing. Mitt Romney also said he doesn't believe Limbaugh's and Gingrich's remarks. And Arlen Specter seemed to indicate he's inclined to vote for her.