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. Uncle Jimbo

    At least Cornyn answered the question honestly.
    Where as McConnell once again proved himself a hypocrite and a phony by dancing around the question and not really answering it.
    He too is obviously scared of Rush.

    Plus ! John King must learn how to keep their feet to the fire and answer the questions he asks, especially since most all his questions are softballs. Where are your follow ups John ?

    June 1, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Pluto

    What? You don't want to sound mean-spirited and hateful? But those are core Republican family values!! How do you expect to win elections if you stray away from your party's platform? Now get out there and call her a Mexican wetback like Rush does.

    June 1, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. James M. Holmes

    McConnell & Cornyn will be on Rush's show appologizing soon...

    June 1, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. SAI

    Hmm... reminds me of the organ grinder and his monkey in the old Peter Sellers' movie – when the good old Inspector chastizes the organ grinder, he claims he is not doing it, and asks the inspector to chastize the monkey!

    However, in this case, the monkey, a 650-lb gorilla, seems to be in charge!

    June 1, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. Michael M. Noonan

    Liberals seem to have selective outrage about this. Where was the indignation when the term "racist" was used repeatedly as a bludgeon to end all discourse by so called civil rights leaders or left wing democrats. Furthermore, Sotomayor's comment certainly carries the whiff of bigotry and needs to be explained. We will see if Republicans will behave better than Ted Kennedy and his ilk who shamelessly vilified Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

    June 1, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Mike in VA

    Sotomayor made racist remarks therfore she is a racist.

    June 1, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. carguy2002

    Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have the gaul to call Sotomayor a racist–talking about hte pot call the kettle black....The only difference between
    Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and a klansman is that oinly the latter walks around with a hood. Racist hate is racist hate , whether its spewed from the months of robe men and women in field at night or whether its spewed from the the months of designer suited politicans or a plan-colthed bufoon pretrending to be a media personality...

    June 1, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. mike

    Obama made a terrible mistake on friday by caving in like he did,now the republicans want sotomayor to apologize for what she said 8yrs ago,if obama in robert gibbs wouldnot have caved in on friday like they did the republicans wont be talking about sotomayor apologizing because the gop was scared to death before the whitehouse took them off the hook.Sotomayor would have gotten 35 republicans to vote for her,but now because of gibbs in obama stupid decision to apologize sotomayor would be lucky to get even half of the republican vote,what obama did on friday was dumb in stupid,if he thought by doing what he did was going to make the situation better hes crazy,

    June 1, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. wwf

    Talk about a coward. Side step the issues as always. I guess he agrees with the other two clowns. The gop leadership has no balls. They are taking their leads from two morons. I guess 2010 should take care of the rest of them.

    June 1, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. bob in LA

    I guess he has bee sent a new job description! In the past, as the country was in peak financial turmoil, it did not stop him or others from using the trade-mark Republican name calling.

    June 1, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Every once in a while, McConnell states something worth agreeing on. This is one such time.

    June 1, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Enough

    Sure they have better things to do, gotta get back to wasting billions of our dollars on more bailouts and pork!!

    June 1, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. Pat, CA

    Gonna run this article to the ground, are ya, CNN? How about a comprehensive article showing how much money Obama threw at GM and then see it go bankrupt, anyway? THAT would be worth reading !!!!!!!!!!!! But - geeze - THAT would be REAL journalism - which is NOT CNN's bag.

    June 1, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  14. Scott

    More inflammatory rhetoric from Limbaugh. Glad to see the Repubs are maybe figuring out they can't move forward with divisiveness.

    June 1, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  15. KC


    It is sad that the news organizations are playing politics by providing a derogatory synopsis of Judge Sotomayor's statement out of context. I would expect that from the Republican party but not from the 'unbiased' news media. This is simply poor new reporting!

    Stone Mountain, GA

    June 1, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. Obama 2.0

    That is right, that is not your job, that it ours!

    June 1, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Wil

    I can understand the point of view that "Ideally" judges are like the blind lady of justice holding the scale impartially and un-biased. But the fact of the matter is that NO ONE is totally un-influenced by that bias. What we hope is that people placed in those positions ignore those biases and render their decisions based on law and facts, period.

    I hope that this push back is not just another attempt from the CONSERVATIVE RIGHT to stay in the public eye, to resist their ever deteriorating relevancy in this multi-faceted and diverse country.

    June 1, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. pam Eugene OR

    That is probably a really good idea. If we and the media ignore Limbaugh and Newt maybe they will just go away. Neither of them hold any elected office and they are not relevant to current discussions unless we allow them to be.

    June 1, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  19. mabear

    Mr McConnell should go back to school and get a real BA from a real University that teaches people from the backwoods how to think for themselves. He is a lemming who will follow the party line over the clifff. I do not know one person who is registered with either party who supports party issues more than 60-70% of the time. Why can't he vote in opposition when he knows the party is wrong? Most of us do. This man is a phony and should not be in office, and no one on either side who votes the party line should be. There are districts, for example that may vote a Republican in office and are 55% pro choice. So why do those people vote pro choice? By the same token, there are districts that vote in a Democrat but are 55% anti union. Why does that rep vote in favor of the unions. In effect, the people we elect only vote for their party, because they are so stupid to assume that they were elected because of the party line. That is, to quote our youth, "so untrue". We need to get these people out of office and have them find a real job where they can use their questionable ethics, honesty, and total lack of morality where their success can then be judged on their real feelings.

    June 1, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Alfred E. Neumann

    At some point the GOP will have to make a decision as to whether they want a pill popping radio announcer to speak in a leadership position or prefer to drift around aimlessly.

    Nothing new here – it was the same when the Democrats lost the White House in 2000: Rush Limbaugh was speaking for them at that time as well.

    McConnell is certainly not the answer nor is that cartoon governor from Louisiana.

    June 1, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. carguy2002

    Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have the nerve to call Sotomayor a racist–talking about hte pot call the kettle black….The only difference between
    Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and a klansman is that oinly the latter walks around with a hood. Racist hate is racist hate , whether its spewed from the months of robe men and women in field at night or whether its spewed from the the months of designer suited politicans or a plan-colthed bufoon pretrending to be a media personality…

    June 1, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. PA Dem

    Funny how now several Republican Senators are stepping forward to speak out against the extremist talk that has been allowed to go virtually unchallenged for months now.

    Funny how they only decided to do this when they realized their Party membership dropped to a woeful 21% and that they were alienating themselves from the vast majority of the country.

    They blow with the wind. This new talk is only about damage control.

    June 1, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  23. mabear

    PS. McConnell is a bigger racist than Sotomayor, and should admit that fact.

    June 1, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. kenny cole

    Anytime rush name is mention gop looses more,it's time to tell this entertainer to shut the f.....up

    June 1, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. Melissa

    I wish the bloody Republicans would start to understand that too. They are being childish. Of course, its not like thats anything new. They have been behaving this way since they lost.

    June 1, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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