Powell Hits Back at Limbaugh: Calling Sotomayor a 'Reverse Racist' Is 'Nonsense'

Powell said Sotomayor is a "gifted" and an "accomplished woman" with "a judicial record that seems to be balanced and tries to follow the law."

Last May, hate radio talker Rush Limbaugh called Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, a “reverse racist,” referring to Sotomayor’s past comment that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Shop ▾

Today on CNN, former Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized such comments. Saying that Sotomayor is a “gifted” and an “accomplished woman” with “a judicial record that seems to be balanced and tries to follow the law,” Powell added that calling her a “reverse racist” is “nonsense”:

POWELL: What we can’t continue to have is to have somebody like a Judge Sotomayor…called a “racist,” or a “reverse racist” and she ought to withdraw her nomination because we’re mad at her. Fortunately the senators who will sit on this hearing in the Judiciary Committee after a few days of this kind of nonsense said, “Let’s slow down. Let’s examine her qualifications and the way we’re supposed to at a confirmation hearing.”

When host John King asked about the GOP’s “sensitivity” toward minorities, Powell took aim at Limbaugh directly, firing back at his claim that Powell only supported Obama’s candidacy for president because he is black:

POWELL: And when you have non-elected officials such as we have in our party who immediately shout racism or somebody who is quite prominent in the media says the only basis upon which I could possibly have supported Obama was because he was black and I was black even though I laid out my judgment on the candidates, then we still have a problem.

King later noted that Limbaugh has also said that Powell is no longer a Republican. “Mr. Limbaugh of course is entitled to his opinion but he’s not on any membership committee,” Powell replied, adding, “He doesn’t decide who I am or what I am no more than I decide who he is or what he is.” Watch it:


Benjamin J. Armbruster is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.