May 6th, 2008
10:05 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain makes pledge on conservative judges


Watch clips from John McCain's speech Tuesday.

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain moved to shore up his support among conservatives by pledging Tuesday to nominate strict-constructionist judges to the federal bench.

"It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds of qualified men and women to the federal courts, and the choices we make will reach far into the future," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said during a speech at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

"My two prospective opponents and I have very different ideas about the nature and proper exercise of judicial power," he said, referring to Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. "We would nominate judges of a different kind, a different caliber, a different understanding of judicial authority and its limits."

Many conservative members are suspect of McCain on the issue of judges because of his involvement in 2006 in the so-called Senate "gang of 14." That bipartisan group of senators sought to reach a consensus on President Bush's judicial appointees, blocking some of the president's most conservative nominations while promising to confirm others.

The group formed after the then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to remove the ability to filibuster judicial nominations after Democratic senators blocked a number of President Bush's nominees.

McCain also directly criticized Obama for not voting to confirm Justice Samuel Alito, saying the Illinois senator's justification of that decision sounded like it was written by an "activist judge."

"Apparently, nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers, and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it – and they see it only in each other," McCain said of Obama.

In response to McCain's speech, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said the Arizona senator has a "radical, right wing judicial philosophy."

"It's clear he's the wrong choice to safeguard that future," Dean also said. "No matter how far they have gone to restrict our fundamental rights or their clear records of gutting the reforms John McCain claims to care about, he has put loyalty to his party and a radical agenda ahead of the American people."

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. Bryan

    No matter what his ability to lead is, this is a major reason not to vote for him. Judges should have no "conservative" or "liberal" tendencies. They should be arbiters of the law, period. This is bad for the country.

    May 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Jacob

    The republicans now dominate the supreme court. We need a democratic president to preserve the balance and unity of our union. A court dominated by one party or the other would provoke disastrous results for the country.

    It i one of the most compelling reasons to vote democratic in 08, and the upcoming landslide in November will cement that fact.

    May 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. J. Independent Guy

    McCain is right.

    May 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Jax

    Even as a pro-life Catholic conservative, i know that regardless of the judges, Rowe V Wade will never been overturned. Even suggesting it makes me laugh.

    However what activist left-wing judges will do is take away my right to protect myself in my own home, stop the singing of God Bless America at Yankee's stadium, stop my child from saying the pledge cause it may offend someone, allow greedy trial lawyers (john edward) to collect millons from ridiculous lawsuits in turn making it impossible to doctors to pay for malpractice insurance, and finally make it legal to suck the brains out of a full term fetus

    May 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Mike, Palo Alto, CA

    The amount of misunderstanding and misinformation in this blog is truly amazing! McCain a 'moderate' ... please look at his voting record. He is a hard core conservative and, worse, a neoconservative in foreign policy. The writer who suggested that Alioto is not a conservative ... absurd, because he is also hard core. One thing is clear ... if McCain appoints the next two Supreme Court judges, women can kiss their reproductive rights goodbye. As a former GOP leader who has been forced to change parties because of the takeover of the GOP by the Religious Right and Neocons, I hope people will look at the facts, real issues, and actual records of the candidates. McCain is Bush Redux. And Bush is surely the worst president in our history.

    May 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Is McCain a natural born citizen? I smell a rat.

    May 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Ed - Washington DC

    The Supreme Court of the late 20th Century helped bring us to the more tolerant and better place where we are today in terms of civil rights.

    It is unfortunate that Mr. McCain chooses this issue to placate the distant right. It will stick in the craws of moderates (including educated independents and republicans) and will not help his election chances.

    May 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Frank Z

    Hurray!!! thats what America needs.. be less progressive...less forward thinking.... less free.... and more intolarent! wooohoooo conservatism rules!

    May 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Al, NY NY

    Jax. You don't think the FIRST DAY after a new conservative Justice was put on the bench someone would bring a case before it? You make me laugh with the ignorance. Right wing judges will: allow concealed weapons everywhere and have NO accountability for background checks/allow Christian prayers to be said at school and other events (even thought contrary to what some may believe there ARE non-christians in this country/allow greedy corporations to skim, bilk, and outright steal $ from our pockets in the name of "competition"/get insider deals for friendly corporations (ie Halliburton) no bid contracts to huge jobs/and finally, force a woman who was raped to carry the baby to term regardless of the circustances

    May 6, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. wiscon

    Women for Obama, the housing crisis is the homeowners fault and the lenders fault. It is not he government's job to bail them out. People need to show a little responsibility and be accountable for making mistakes. I took out a mortgage I could handle. Sure, I would like a bigger and nicer house, but I settled for a house I could afford. It is not the government's job to use my tax dollars to bail out 3% of the population. Maybe they shouldn't have bought the jet skies, new car, and whatever else they had to have at the moment. Try saving to buy something.

    May 6, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Lutisha BeeBranch Ark

    You go Mccain with your kind of reponses example 100 years, not go to war for oil again and judges you would pick the democrats won't have to campaign you are giving them the election, THANKS.

    GO OBAMA 08

    May 6, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Debbie

    That pledge is going to be what will send him packing back to the senate.

    May 6, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Uncle Sam

    Detractors of Sen. McCain seem intent on finding an excuse to malign his character. I find it interesting that those on the right accuse him of abandoning his conservative principles, while those on the left claim that he has adopted the president's policies. They cry, "Look, he's a conservative!" "No, he's a liberal!" Wait, he's a moderate!" The truth is that John is doing his best to be himself in a system that insists he remain in a political box. He has devoted his life, and often at great risk, to serve the country he loves. John McCain really is the American president Americans have been waiting for. They just don't know it yet.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 6, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. john

    ......... and it is exactlly that kind of talk that will drive the dems home to the nominee! keep talking mac, we won't win you'll lose!

    May 6, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Teddy

    I have observed one fact. Obama's supporters dominated blogging everywhere! But all polls show the support is about equal among Obama, Clinton, and McCain.

    What are the reasons why there are so many bloggers for Obama? Young college students should be very busy on their studies. Do they have so much time blogging? Are most of the bloggers just activists, not common voters? We all know there are far more activitsts for Obama than any other candidates.

    May 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Kevin in Denver

    To Haley: McCain's pledge is not for conservative judges but for strict CONSTITUTIONAL judges. He berates the left-leaning activist judges who inject their social agendas into their rulings. If sticking to the letter of the constitution is conservative, then what is the liberal way of judging? Disregarding the constitution or believing it is a "living, breathing document" (i.e. subject to the whims of leftist fads).

    The word used was Constuctionist judges not constitutional, and Disregarding the constitution is a LIBERAL IDEA????!!!! where the hell have you been living for the past 8 years? You must be all of 18 with such uninformed opinions.

    May 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Nan

    Does anyone else remember that McCain USED to be against torture, then changed his mind and supports America's right to practice that abhorant treatment? Seems to me that if we're supposed to be thought of as the "good guys", we should ACT THE PART!!

    May 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Xrepublican

    "My friends, I intend to nominate judges that don't follow the Constitution but follow their own personal beliefs, my friends. My friends, I intend on continuing the ruination of America by the bush crime family since I will say or do anything to get elected, my friends."

    McBush = FOUR MORE YEARS. If you are better off than you were 8 years ago then vote for McBush and then sign up to go fight his oil war in Iraq, otherwise, STFU.

    May 6, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. heathers67

    Strict constructionist does NOT mean conservative!

    May 6, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. bernj

    "Conservative judge" means neocon judge. Neocon judge means byb by Bill of Rights.

    May 6, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Total Fake. He admitted he knows nothing about the economy and
    HE DON'T CARE. He reads off of the teleprompter and this is what
    is "written" for him to say.

    Vote for McCain, a patsy for Bush. Bush will be "ruling" the Country
    with his feet propped up, while sitting on his front porch in Crawford.


    May 6, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    In the world of the neo-cons, "conservative judge" means "narrow-minded bigot determined to ram his religion down your throat." Why in the world do we want that?

    May 6, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. emtp JB

    Just what America needs...more Conservatives and the religious right to push their immoral minority views on the rest of us-NOT!!!

    May 6, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Mike

    It is amazing to me that people out there believe that judicial "activism" is coming from the left and that justices on the right are merely interpreting the constitution in the strictest of terms. The Bill of Rights has simply been gutted by this administration, which has shrewdly used the so called "war on terror" as its justification time and again. In almost every case, the right-leaning Supreme Court has been complicit in this re-interpretation of the Constitution and dismantling of our fundamental rights. How is this not "activism" of the worst kind???

    May 6, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Jack from California

    Senator John McGeezer – what he for again? Oh wait, he'll change his mind when he wakes up.

    This guy is a loser and only offers us another term for George Bush policies – Is this what America Wants?

    NO – We need change – Vote Democratic Party and get the country back on track. We have had enough of the "rule of the elitists" it's time to get back to Progressive Policies that take America forward!

    May 6, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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