Supreme Court pick would have rephrased 'white male' remarks: White House

U.S. President Barack Obama defended his Supreme Court nominee on Friday, saying he believed she would have rephrased a controversial statement that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge.

U.S. President Barack Obama defended his Supreme Court nominee on Friday, saying he believed she would have rephrased a controversial statement that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge.

"I'm sure she would have restated it," Obama told NBC News.

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic in history picked to sit on the top U.S. court, said: "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."

Some conservative critics have argued that the quote is "reverse racism" and that had a white judge said something similar, that individual would have been immediately disqualified from seeking the Supreme Court nomination.

As well, critics said the statement justifies their fears that some of Sotomayor's judgments could be based on emotion, not the letter of the law.

Republicans are expected to question Sotomayor on that issue during her Senate confirmation process.

"I think if she had the speech to do all over again, I think she'd change that word," presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Gibbs said he did not hear that from Sotomayor directly, but rather from people who had talked to her, and he did not identify who those people were.

Sotomayor herself has made no public comments about the matter and was not available for comment.

With files from The Associated Press