U.S. President Barack Obama is defending his Supreme Court nominee against racism charges from some Republican critics. The president says Judge Sonia Sotomayor should be confirmed swiftly.
President Obama, in his weekly address, is calling on the Senate to give Judge Sotomayor a swift, rigorous and principled confirmation.
"After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice," he said. "In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers."
Born to Puerto Rican parents, who moved to New York during World War II, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court and the third woman. If confirmed by the Senate, she would join Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only other woman on the court.
Some Republicans say Sotomayor is a "racist," after comments she made in 2001 in a lecture at the University of California Law School were recently made public.
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," said the judge.
In an interview with NBC television on Friday, Mr. Obama tried to deflect the criticism of his nominee. "I am sure she would have restated it, but if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what is 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," he said.
And in his weekly address, the president dismisses those who are opposing Sotomayor's nomination on the basis of her comment.
"There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor's record," said Mr. Obama.
Republicans do not have enough votes in the Senate to block Sotomayor's nomination. Many in the opposition party are refraining from criticizing the president's nominee, largely to avoid offending Hispanics, one of the nation's largest and fastest-growing ethnic groups.
In the weekly Republican message, Governor Mitch Daniels of the central state of Indiana is criticizing the Democrats' policy on climate change.
"The scheme to radically change the sources and the cost of American energy, through a system known as 'cap and trade' may be well intentioned, but it will cost us dearly in jobs and income, and it stands no chance of achieving its objective of a cooler earth," he said.
Mr. Obama and Democrats in Congress are backing a "cap and trade" bill, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. It would allow businesses to buy licenses to emit greenhouse gases from other firms that use less energy. Republicans say it will be too costly for businesses.