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Steele: It’s ‘Not Inflammatory’ For Me To Say ‘God Help You If You’re A White Male Coming Before’ Sotomayor

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"Steele: It’s ‘Not Inflammatory’ For Me To Say ‘God Help You If You’re A White Male Coming Before’ Sotomayor"

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While guest-hosting Bill Bennett’s radio show last week, RNC Chairman Michael Steele backtracked on his call for conservatives to tone down their harsh rhetoric towards Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. “God help you if you’re a white male coming before her bench,” declared Steele.

On CNN last night, Campbell Brown confronted Steele with the quote, which was first reported by ThinkProgress. “Well, that’s not inflammatory,” replied Steele. He then tried to explain why his statement was benign:

STEELE: Well, that’s not inflammatory. It’s based off of what — the inference that she left and what she said. You know, if you have a judge, where you have a situation where you have — you’re going before a trier of fact, and the trier of fact is on record as saying that this individual’s background experience is better positioned to make a decision than someone else, that gives one pause. And so my view of it was, in looking at it, you’re now segregating out white men by your comments. So, God help you if you’re a white male. If you’re seeking justice, this may not be the bench you want to go before.

Watch it:

Earlier in the interview, before Brown confronted him with his “white male” quote, Steele insisted that he simply “wanted to see what her record is.” But if that were true, he would know that his fearmongering claim that Sotomayor will discriminate against white men is groundless.

When SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein examined all of Sotomayor’s race-related judicial opinions, he found that Sotomayor had “rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.” “Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking,” concluded Goldstein. Noting Goldstein’s study, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote yesterday, “When you read her opinions, race and gender are invisible.”

Transcript:

BROWN: You know, you’ve talked about expanding the party to win specifically Latinos over. But some in your party, including you, have said some pretty inflammatory things about Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Do you think that hurts those efforts?

STEELE: Well, I don’t know what I said that was inflammatory about the judge other than we wanted to see what her record is and we wanted to wait until that record was fully understood so that we can engage in I think a very important debate about the direction the Supreme Court at these times…

BROWN: Right.

STEELE:…where you’ve got questions regarding property rights, questions regarding, you know, the role of the government and the lives of the American people. So I don’t think I said anything inflammatory, though.

BROWN: Well, I’ll read you the quote…

STEELE: OK.

BROWN: … and then you can clarify it for all of us. This is after you had said that Republicans shouldn’t, in your view, use hot rhetoric…

STEELE: Right.

BROWN: … that was the quote — about race to attack her. You then said, “God help you if you’re a white male coming before her bench.”

STEELE: Well, that’s not inflammatory. It’s based off of what — the inference that she left and what she said. You know, if you have a judge, where you have a situation where you have — you’re going before a trier of fact, and the trier of fact is on record as saying that this individual’s background experience is better positioned to make a decision than someone else, that gives one pause. And so my view of it was, in looking at it, you’re now segregating out white men by your comments. So, God help you if you’re a white male. If you’re seeking justice, this may not be the bench you want to go before. And I think that’s the clarification the judge needs to make very clear in her hearings, that — was that something that she views as a personal view, or is that how she adjudicates the law? What is it?

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