June 1st, 2009
11:14 AM ET
10 years ago

McConnell: Better things to do than play 'speech police'

(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN Sunday he disagrees with conservative commentators who have labeled Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, but said he has better things to do than be "the speech police."

"Look. I've got a big job to do dealing with 40 Senate Republicans and trying to advance the nation's agenda, and better things to do than be the speech police over people who have their views about a very important appointment," McConnell told CNN's John King on State of The Union. "So I'm not going to get into policing everybody's speech."

The comments come two days after Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, publicly repudiated recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling Obama's choice for the high court a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Cornyn told NPR Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

McConnell told King Sunday the idea that Sotomayor is a racist - a notion largely based on her 2001 speech at Berkeley - is "certainly not my view."

"My view is we ought to take a look at this nominee's qualifications,” McConnell said. “I think her life story is absolutely impressive."

But the Senate Minority Leader added he would not rule out pushing for a filibuster against Sotomayor after a thorough investigation into her past rulings and statements.

"To predict [a filibuster] in the same week that the nominee is put forward is putting the cart before the horse," McConnell said. "We have no earthly idea whether that would be appropriate at some point in the process. We've got a lot of cases to read and a lot of background to check."

Filed under: State of the Union
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. I can see Canada from my house!

    Wrong, Senator. It is your resposibility to tell Limabugh and other non-elected personalityies they are not contributing to the adult discussion about Sotomayor's qualifications. You are the Minority Leader of the United States Senate, so please act like one. If you do, you might get re-elected to your current position after the mid-term elections by what will be left of your caucus.

    All 2 or 3 of you.

    June 1, 2009 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Bill in VA

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a safe bet to call it a duck. "I'm a better judge than a white man because I'm Latina and a woman".

    Racism and sexism – all in one neat little package.

    June 1, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. TM in CO

    Rush holds no political office and Newt got thrown out of his so why anyone would put any value to their off the wall comments is beyond me. They obvious didn't read/listen to Sotomeyer whole speech. There isn't anything "racist" in the comment she made. It was a comparison.

    June 1, 2009 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  4. The black spider

    Come on GOP dig your own grave. Fillibuster Sotomayor.
    Obama say's " You ain't Seen nothing yet". You like playing politics by pleasing your base and denigre qualified people but at the same time your party is full of empty barrils making noise.
    Obama ain't kerry to swift boat. he is a savy and to my point the most skilled politician of the 21st century and you will be exposed.
    Watch out or your party will never regain the white house again. You know why?
    1. The root of politics is in demography. USA is not 70% white anymore.
    2. We have something called the internet so you can't lie no more.
    3. The politics of fear is the only tool you have left after the race politics, the GGG politics has failed and the majority of people are not even bying into that fear mongering anymore.

    June 1, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. Republican

    If it were a white man or women who said the things she said and judged racism cases the way she has, that white man or women would be called racist and would never be appointed to the Supreme Court. Why is it OK for her? Because she's spanish? Because Obama appointed her? It doesn't make sense. Racism shouldn't happen at all whether you are white, black, hispanic, etc.

    Horrible Choice for a Supreme Court Justice.

    As far as the dispute between GOP, that's fine. People have opinions and they disagree. The media, once again is making way to big of a deal about this. Focus on the matter at hand, that this person should NOT have even been thought of to be appointed to the supreme court.

    June 1, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. ellen

    This woman has shown she is willing to discrimminate against people based on race, sex and culture. The law is supposed to protect us from discrimmination, not embody it.

    June 1, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. kishen c.rao

    At last this dude realized the truth....they have better things such as fixing health care (government involvement in health care, certainly not private rogues with greed) Put PAs in rural practice as general medicine practioners for cost cuts...in health care, so that hospitals would not rob, nor doctors ))...economy and energy indipendence...immigration etc., to do than poking on each other...needlessly...like newt gingrich, and others...just woke up this man....thanks for this...

    June 1, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. susanth

    It puzzles me that the elected leadership of the Republican party have given away their power to a drug addict who lacks the guts to run for anything, let alone political office or a certfied leadership role within the party (I am an independent, by the way). Look, Rush may have 20 million listeners (or so he says) but do they all vote? Limbaugh has his own agenda and that is to maintain his well-paying job.

    June 1, 2009 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  9. Sharon Kitchen

    Well................that's is good news.

    Now, on with the hearing and then the appointment.

    This Nation has alot of buiness to attend to.

    June 1, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Tim

    I'm a Democrat, but I do believe in a two party system. However the Republicans and doing everything they can to deminish their party. They are a party with a drowning man's plan for survival. They are grabbing everything that's floating by, but don't realize they are in waist deep water.

    June 1, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. Simmy

    There were almost 300 comments made on this article over the w/e....Where did they go? I say again, Sen. McConnell's statement was a cop out.....He's too afraid to call the outrageous attacks against Judge Sotomayor stupid.......He chose to be neutral....Coward....

    June 1, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. Creative Woody

    The GOP leadership acting like adults? Unpossible.

    June 1, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  13. The black spider

    It's so funny how the right wing of the republican party is trying to label Judge Sotomayor as a racit. THE GOP IS REALLY A PARTY OF HIPPOCRITES.
    The last time i check the GOP national convention or all the political rallies of the 2008 election, all i see is 99.99% white attendees while the population of USA is only 40% white.
    I haven't seen the media asking any questions about that.
    WHAT PARTY IS THE PARTY OF RACISTS. I bet you don't need a master degree to figure that up unless you are blind.

    June 1, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. SLM

    Democrats are such hypocrites. How quickly they forget how they were with Clarence Thomas and Alberto Gonzalez. They have total control and are destroying this country, all they are doing is showcasing.

    June 1, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. Jules

    Hahahahaha....and the party just keeps eating away at itself....so much fun to watch ~

    June 1, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    For Mitch to be the top ranking republican, not speaking out agianst the extreme right wing comments from his party shows that he is a terrible leader.

    June 1, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. Abel

    The Republican party today has become a laughing stalk when Rush Limburgh & Dick cheney appears to be be the partys model for change "it is unfortunate that the party of Ronald Regan is reduced to a radio talk show anchor moments model "what a shame"

    June 1, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. tina

    Hey Rush, your words are falling on deaf ears now!
    When will you shut up, and stop spreading poison?

    June 1, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  19. John in Ohio

    I agree and applaud him, hope he's got his safety gear on for all the crap the lunatic conservatives will be throwing at him.

    June 1, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Bob Ramos

    I am an active hispanic voter and contribute to candidates of my choice.

    I have never voted for Senator Cornyn but, provided he does not apologize to Rush as other Republicans have, I will remember his statement on the hearings for Judge Sotomayer when he runs again.

    June 1, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. Angela

    Or is he really saying as the Senate Minority Leader he has no control or influence over what is said in the name of his party? The comments they make do have a negative overtone that reflects on the Republican Party.

    Now, yes I know, free speech, but are they not on the same team?

    June 1, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. aware530

    Did the Republicans say racist? Now that's funny

    June 1, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  23. JA/TN

    Rush, has done what so many in America do, made a name selling garbage, and Newt's better day are gone

    June 1, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. delong

    Yeah...but if it had been a DEMOCRAT who labeled, oh let's say Clarence Thomas, a racist, we would never hear the end of it and the "speech police" from the right would be out in full force. These right wingers are such phonys and hipocrites!!!

    June 1, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  25. videodrome

    I agree that we shouldn't have to deal with the "speech police" in this country.
    But we are getting nowheres with all this hating and all this partisan, vicious talk. And I mean BOTH SIDES need to tone it down, for the sake of this country and the American people.
    Enough is enough.

    June 1, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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