Republican Attacks on Sotomayor Could Alienate Women As Well as Hispanics

As if the GOP could afford to alienate another group of voters right now.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Message to GOP: On Sotomayor, give it up. With Judge Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings set to begin next week, Republicans are still peering under every pillow in Washington, seeking issues to use against her during those hearings. Most of the media attention on Judge Sotomayor's record has been on her position on civil rights. Wily GOP strategists are realizing her position on that issue is a nonstarter.

Most media reports focus on the possibility of the GOP further alienating Hispanics by going after Judge Sotomayor. Take this from the AP:

In recent days, GOP senators have faulted her for her stance on gun rights, her ruling against white firefighters who alleged reversed discrimination, and her participation in the Puerto Rican legal advocacy group. They've raised questions about her ability to be "colorblind."

Still, they've had to reach to score points against Sotomayor.

What the media don't focus on is an even larger, more important group of voters who could also see an attack on Judge Sotomayor as an attack on themselves. Women represent 50.7 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics comprise 1 in 6 Americans or just under 47 million, versus more than 150 million women.

Not only will Judge Sotomayor be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court—if she is confirmed—she will also be one of two women (with Ruth Bader Ginsberg), following the trail blazed by now retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat former President George W. Bush filled with a man. Republicans already have the white male vote. If they wage war on Judge Sotomayor's nomination, they reinforce their base but lose voters whose support they sorely need.