Being tarred as a racist while a nominee for a federal judgeship was a "heartbreaking" experience, Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana Kislyak going back to Russia, embassy says Grassley calls on 'leaker' to release Sessions-Russia conversation MORE (R-Ala.) said Friday.

Sessions, now the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, condemned allegations of racism as "loaded" as some members of his own party have used the same work to describe Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

"It was really so heartbreaking to me," Sessions told CNN of his 1986 nomination to a federal judgeship halted by the Senate, which had expressed concerns over Sessions's views on race.

"Those were false charges and distortions of anything that I did," Sessions said. "And it really was not. I never had those kind of views. And I was caricatured in a way that was not me."

Sessions is now leading the Republican vetting of Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, while some leading voices of the GOP, like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, have called the Latina nominee a racist.

Sessions recalled when that same claim had been made against him.

"You know, that's a loaded word, and I don't think it's appropriate," he said.