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GOP Pushback Continues, With Limbaugh Calling Sotomayor A "Reverse Racist"

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Updated at 2:20 ET with comments from Newt Gingrich.

Republican senators continued through Tuesday and Wednesday to express reservations about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, as some conservative interest groups and pundits ratcheted up the pressure for the GOP to oppose the nomination. Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have gone so far as to call Sotomayor a "racist."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, had a measured response on Tuesday to Sotomayor's nomination, calling for thorough Senate confirmation hearings.

This morning Sessions reiterated the need for a thorough vetting, adding that "the nominee has serious problems," according to the Associated Press. He specifically said he found certain remarks from Sotomayor regarding policymaking from the bench to be "troubling."

Sessions said, however, he does not anticipate a filibuster against the nomination. He said it was "possible" he could support Sotomayor's nomination -- even though he opposed her appeals court nomination in 1998 -- and that she "has a good resume."

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in a statement Tuesday listed the same reservations as Sessions over the nomination. Inhofe said Sotomayor's personal story is "truly inspiring," but he is concerned about whether she would refrain from "legislating from the bench."

"Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern," he said. "In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences."

Some anti-abortion rights activists have been hesistant to criticize Sotomayor strongly, but are urging senators to take a close look at her history, the Politico reports.

The National Right to Life Committee in a statement cautioned senators against acting on the nomination "with undue haste," noting that little is known about her views regarding abortion. Bruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, also told Politico that "with Sotomayor, we have to take a wait-and-see attitude."

Other anti-abortion rights groups, however, are calling on Republicans to filibuster the nomination, the Politico reports -- including Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who is appealing to Republicans as well as Democrats opposed to abortion rights to block the nomination. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, also favors a filibuster.

"The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one," Robertson said. "If they don't, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away."

Limbaugh excoriated moderate Republicans like Colin Powell and Tom Ridge for not speaking out against Sotomayor's nomination, calling the judge a "reverse racist."

"Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one...to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said on his radio show Tuesday. "So now he's got a hack. He got a party hack that he's put on the court that's likely to be confirmed. This is where the so-called moderate Republicans are completely useless, if you ask me... We are confronting a radical assault on this nation, a radical assault today on the U.S. Supreme Court, and moderates in the Republican party are distracting our ability to organize the opposition."

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is also calling Sotomayor a racist. Gingrich wrote from his Twitter account: "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also had strong words against Sotomayor's nomination on his political action committee's web site: "The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bi-partisan way were mere rhetoric," reads Huckabee's statement. "Sotomayor comes from the far left and will likely leave us with something akin to the 'Extreme Court' that could mark a major shift."

The Politico noted that the statement first referred to the nominee as "Maria Sotomayor," but the error was quickly corrected.