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Marie Watteau





Washington, DC—Saying that, “The Republican party is better than this,” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza)—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—called on Republican party leaders to denounce the extremist rhetoric surrounding the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court and released a petition asking them to restore the debate to a more appropriate level of civil discourse. In just three days, thepetition has already gathered nearly 2,500 signatures.


“The nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court was an historic and proud moment for Latinos in America,” said Murguía.  “But as proud as our community is over her nomination, we have been stunned and repelled by the visceral reaction it has generated among many in the Republican party.”


Murguía cited a number of extreme statements by voices within the Republican party which have gone virtually unchallenged since the Sotomayor nomination by President Barack Obama.


Rush Limbaugh, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, and others are claiming that Sotomayor is a “reverse racist.” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies—the “think tank” of white supremacist John Tanton’s anti-immigrant groups—and the National Review online attacked Judge Sotomayor for pronouncing her own name correctly.


In an article that appeared in The Hill newspaper, Republican insiders are quoted as being "concerned" that Sotomayor's avowed love of arroz con gandules and other Puerto Rican delicacies will cloud her judicial decision-making. Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel called Sotomayor "Judge J-Lo" and suggested that she was about as qualified to be on the Supreme Court as the well-known singer.


“Clearly,” said Murguía, “her ethnicity has proven to be too much of a temptation for those who give voice to hate and extremism. Instead of looking at her judicial record, they have launched a vocal rampage that has reached new heights of absurdity.”


“While we applaud Senator John Cornyn’s call for civility, these gross mischaracterizations of Judge Sotomayor coupled with the deafening silence of the Republican leadership are leaving many within our community with a disturbing picture of the Republican party. Much hangs in the balance, including our votes.”


“We are calling on Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to stand up to the extremists. Stand up for your party. Stand up for what is best in America. We are better than this. The Republican party is better than this.”


In one attack on Judge Sotomayor late last week, Tom Tancredo faulted the Justice nominee for being a member of “La Raza” and likened Murguía’s organization to a “Latino KKK.”


“It was offensive, shameful, and a slap in the face to my predecessor, Raul Yzaguirre, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to secure civil rights for all Americans,” said Murguía. “Raising questions and concerns about Judge Sotomayor’s 17-year record on the bench is legitimate. Resorting to outdated stereotypes, defamation of character, and outright falsehoods is not.”


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