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Is Sotomayor A Racist?

That seems to be an emerging line of attack from opponents of the new Supreme Court nominee.

The criticism is based on two incidents involving Judge Sonia Sotomayor. First, a ruling in the Second Circuit upholding a decision by the city of New Haven to deny promotions to firefighters because minorities who took the test did not pass. Second, Sotomayor's quote in a 2001 speech, that a "wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion as a judge than a white male who has not lived that life."

The "racist" counterattack began when Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor a "reverse racist" on his radio show yesterday.

"Here you have a racist - you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist," he said. "And the libs of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone."

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo then said last night on MSNBC that Sotomayor "appears to be a racist," calling her 2001 statement both racist and sexist.

And just an hour ago, Newt Gingrich tweeted: "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

Some argue that the White House invited a race discussion by focusing so heavily on her background in yesterday's rollout. Notably today, the administration is hosting a conference call with "legal experts" to discuss her nomination, however.

UPDATE: Robert Gibbs was asked about the Gingrich statement at today's press briefing. The press secretary said it's important for people involved in this debate to be "exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation."