U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared Donald Trump’s assertion a Mexican-American judge was inherently biased to a remark made by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about Latina women experiencing life differently than white men.
Trump said Friday U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not preside fairly over a lawsuit against Trump University because of his “Mexican heritage.”
During a conference call with Iowa reporters Wednesday, Grassley said Sotomayor’s claim — made before she was confirmed to the Supreme Court — that a “wise Latina” could produce a better verdict than a white man with different life experiences, was comparable to Trump’s statement.
Curiel, born in Indiana, presents an “inherent conflict of interest,” Trump said, because he will be “building a wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants out of the country, if elected president.
“I think that you don’t have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that, when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, ‘A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,'” he said. “I don’t hear any criticism of that sort of comment by a justice of the Supreme Court.”
Despite the comparison, Grassley said he disagreed with Trump’s assessment of Curiel being unfit to do his job because of his race.
As Iowa’s senior senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley has found himself in the national spotlight during the past several months for refusing to hold a hearing for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Trump, the Republican presumptive nominee for president, doubled-down on his comments during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last Wednesday.
“I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump said.
“Is it not — when Hillary Clinton says this is a racist attack and you reject that — if you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Tapper asked.
“No, I don’t think so at all,” Trump responded.
Democrats haven’t been the only ones to denounce Trump’s remarks. On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan labeled Trump’s remarks as “the textbook definition of a racist comment” during a Tuesday morning press conference in Washington, D.C. GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois also came out Tuesday against the party’s nominee in a tweet that said, “Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.”
Despite Ryan’s criticism and that of many U.S. lawmakers, he has continued to call for the party to unite in support of Trump.
Grassley’s remarks came on the heels of Iowa’s primary election Tuesday night, in which former Iowa lieutenant governor Patty Judge won the Democratic contest. She now will face the six-term incumbent senator in the Nov. 8 general election.
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