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. Emma

    Get it right McConnell or no Hispanic vote for centuries to come.

    June 1, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. FS

    Rush is like Howard Stern and other radio heads. They're just there for entertainment. You can't take what they say serious. Their sole purpose is to increase ratings so sponsors make more money and you do that by saying what they say. All he is doing now is making the Democrats look better. The GOP should denounce him and save some face.

    June 1, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. JAC


    June 1, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    While Gingrich has had some valid points, about some things in the Dems corner, Limbaugh is becoming irrelevant, as his positions are too extreme, even for decent Republicans.

    Americans need to get away from the limitations of the 2 party system, altogether, as neither party is serving the citizens well.

    June 1, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Beny

    You better listen to your party's leader or he will bash you on his stupid show.

    June 1, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Juan

    Will someone in the Republican party standup to Limbaugh and tell him to shut up already!!! He's doing more harm to the party than anyone else in history.

    June 1, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Justin

    Poor Mitch can't manage to lead 40 Senators AND engage with the GOP leadership at the same time? Maybe he'll feel better if the Republicans lose another 10 seats in 2010.

    June 1, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. John, Rochester MN

    It's nice to see the ACTUAL Republican leaders being straightforward about this. There may be hope for them yet.

    June 1, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Ron

    Is there any chance that our government can move on with this
    issue? All the derogatory talk about Sotomayor is disgusting, as is the Republican Party.

    June 1, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. PJ

    Seems like the republicans better start policing what the hate spewing right wing conservative fringe is putting out. They are being judged by all of that by the public. It seems to me that the party needs to get the control back from the lunatics who are running it.

    June 1, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is some LEADER who is afraid to repudiate unelected people like Rush and Newt Gingrich!!!

    So much for a balanced Republican Party that is going to go down in flmes in 2010 elections!!!

    Obama – Biden 2012

    June 1, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. BeefMasterX

    It doesn't matter how spineless repubs are as long as they actively work against the placement of a rascist on the supreme court.
    Where is my new third party?

    June 1, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. sick and tired

    this loser mcconnell does not have time to police everything his stupid party members are saying but you let the President or some other democrat call someone racist and i bet he will start policing those comments. This hyprocrite is only saying this because his fellow party member are really stepping over the line with the negative comments and names they are calling this supreme court nominee.

    June 1, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Adele

    There are 3 pre-eminent racists in this country : 3 white men called Gingrich, Cheney and pig Limbaugh.

    June 1, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. Racist is as racist does

    Perhaps I might not go as far as calling Satomayor a flagrant racist, but some of her commetns and rulings have definitely shown a tendency to bring bias involving race and gender into her courtroom, and that is a big NO NO. I will watch with interest at how the ruling power – the democrats – handle the questioning – whether they totally whitewash it, or if they do there job. The lst thing with need on the court is a flaming liberal activist hellbent on leveling the playing field based on gender and race – that is contrary to our Constitution – you show NO bias or preference to anyone. Justice should be blind and not looking to see of the individual before the court is black, white, latino, or male or female.

    June 1, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Fenarkleman

    Well it's about time. Let us leave blowhard politics in our past.

    June 1, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Oh nooooo! Please keep it up Rush Lameballs! The more you open your fat, stupid, drugged-out mouth, the more you help us Dems to take more seats in 2010! Keep showing your neo-con party how ignorant and arrogant you and they continue to be by espousing what yall stand for! We LOVE it! McConnell is just scared because he knows what this is doing to the Resluglicans' chances in 2010 among Hispanics, the main group that made a difference in this past election, lol! Keep up the good work!

    June 1, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. jm for sc

    Amen McConnell!!! It is about time some one sees through this ignorance. Sotomayor is a qualified candidate which is the main reason she was selected.

    June 1, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. alvino

    Saying, "NO!" is hard work, and McConnell and the GOP are not able to multi-task.

    Telling Rush and Newt that they are not helping the party would be political suicide for McConnell.

    June 1, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    The elected Republicans will now try to distance themselves from the unelected leaders in an effort to cover their asses. They realize that the polarization of the nation which the unelected leaders are engaged is tearing their party apart and marginalizes their efforts to regain power in this nation. As long as the hate mongers run their mouths the Republican party will have trouble regaining any of the moderates who are vital in winning elections in this country. The elected leaders may agree with the rhetoric of the unelected ones but they can't afford politically to allow them to be preceived as the policy setters for the party.

    June 1, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Erik

    It's nice to see a spark of intelligence come from the GOP. Hopefully it won't be suffocated by the widespread ignorance residing in the party.

    June 1, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Shadysider

    McConnell is right. The GOP 'spokespeople' such as Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and Coulter are giving the GOP horrible representation among mainstream America. Unfortunately, the GOP's base are the listeners of these 'spokesmen' and the religious right. At some point the GOP is going to have to confront this issue and decide if they are going to continue to appease this base or adopt positions more in line with the rest of America.

    June 1, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. RealityKing

    CNN, the tabloid news corp...

    June 1, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Moderate Republican

    He failed to give a real opinion on the matter at hand.....he really could have rubuttled and rebuked the rampant offensive accusations spewing from the party......He could have seperated himself from the fray......It leads one to wonder if he slightly agrees w/ the hatespeak coming from the right.....A missed opportunity.......

    June 1, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. RealityKing

    No Sotomayor is not racists, but she is clearly prejudice about race. Exactly what Obama was looking for..

    June 1, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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