Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Sessions, top DOJ officials knew 'zero tolerance' would separate families, watchdog finds Sen. Hawley tramples the 2020 vote in his run to 2024 MORE (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said he's glad that Newt Gingrich has retracted his charge that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist.

"I'm very glad he backed off," Sessions told CNN's Dana Bash. "I think that's unusual, that commentators do that, and I think it was very good that he did. I think that will help--help us. I think that will help us have a real good discussion about the serious issues that the nation faces and that the court faces."

Gingrich had previously called Sotomayor a racist, but retracted and semi-apologized for that claim earlier today.

The retractions come as some Republicans are worrying that over-the-top charges against Sotomayor could alienate Hispanic voters.

Sessions had previously said that the racism charges "would not be words that I would use," but had refused to criticize Gingrich (or Rush Limbaugh, who made a similar charge).