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. Dave B

    While our soldiers are battling religious zealists and extremist around the world, are we supposed to sit here and listen to this idiot just because he is of a so-called Christian backed extremism and not Islamic? When you listen to Rush, it is like listening to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but with a Hitler style agenda. He does nothing but fuel the hatred and bigotry that most of the country is trying to rid itself of.

    Sometimes freedom of speech can be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. There is nothing there but a message of division and hate. He spews his ignorance as it has been done throughout history, in the guise of a religion. Wake up people, this is not what Christianity is supposed to be about.

    June 1, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. DonnieBlack

    I appreciate McConnell's maturity. I wish more of his party members would grow up.

    June 1, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Pegasus

    Rush and Newt needs to be put out of their misery once and for all. They are ridiculously spewing hateful and negative talk. Enough is enough with them two. It's never anything good coming from their mouths except to their listening audience. I never heard of Rush Limbaugh until President Obama started running for office. And now you can't stop hearing Rush's name everywhere you turn. He has something negative to say about any and everything coming from the new president 's administrative office. And Newt isn't any better...just another parrot behind Rush.

    June 1, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. Ren from Baltimore

    TO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    Mr. McConnell, if you actually do not agree with Limbaugh and Gingrich concerning their "racist" charges, you could simply say so without caveat or wheedling.

    Your statement about not wanting to play "speech police" puts you at the bottom of those elected to uphold human rights and dignity-I guess you are just too busy to do your citizen's duty. Goodbye, sir.

    June 1, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. demwit

    When is John going to ask Rev Wright about the GM bailouts??

    June 1, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Bill K. NY

    Commentators are supposed to comment on important current events. The job National Republican Senatorial Committee is to determine if Sonia Sotomayor can be a fair and impartial Supreme Court Justice.
    Now I ask you: Would a white man who has never experienced injustice, raceism, or hardships arive at better decisions because they don't have to "get even" for past injustices?
    However, the National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn't appear to want to even consider that possibility.

    June 1, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Nicholas

    Sounds like the republicans are finally starting to get it...we the American people want substantive debates and not childish, baseless, hateful ideal pushers.

    June 1, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Franky

    You know guys, I'm sorry guys for not saying was up, it is a pretty big day for one of the original companies in this country and it is a big day but come on, are you guys worried? Are you worried about GM? Just look at some numbers, you won't be surprised...

    Plus, haven't you heard what has the highest stock right now? You haven't heard? Plastic!!! LOL!!! Boy, is plastic raising the stock, they ain't playing around! You know recycling, right? You can recycle computers, MP3's, CD's, etc. It has stock baby, it has it!! As for GM, it is their lowest price in stock sinc eback in the Depression, that should tell you something...

    But I'm telling you, plastic is the way to go baby, is the way to go...

    June 1, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. WDRussell

    Now its going to be McConnell's turn to get on his knees and seek forgiveness from His Lardness.

    June 1, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Bob Noe

    Why are we wasting time getting into debates with Limbaugh, ex VP, and the likes who have NO political appointed position. They didn't do much when they had a job so what makes them so smart now????
    Sick of it.

    June 1, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. eragon

    why do the gop senators keep caring what Rush thinks, he doesnt speak for the gop and he wasnt elected to any position for the gop so cares what he thinks...... hes a nasty man who should shut is mouth because the only thing that comes out of his mouth hateful comments. is this type of person the gop wants link themselves with?

    June 1, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Jack

    The Republican party needs to do more in regards to the divisive relationship it has increasingly, overtly, and transparently displayed during and since the presidential primaries to the current. Most elected Republican officials never respond to the negative language of Limbaugh and others. It seems as though they support the rhetoric by saying nothing. Now that it seems as the the GOP may be losing votes in all minority sectors, that only now are they willing to speak against Limbaugh. I watch the interview of the Senate Minority Leader and, to me, what he gave for speaking against Limbaugh were for political positioning.

    June 1, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. dan

    I think this is the first time i've ever agreed with MITCH MCCONNEL. Republicans have backed themselves into this hole.

    THE PARTY OF NO!!! thats what you'll get, Dems 2010!!!

    June 1, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. Imarriedmy sister in Mississippi

    I pray to Rush for my sins every day.

    June 1, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. David, MN

    Obviously, Newt (who's probably looking at another political "run" in 2010), McConnell (who's having trouble keeping up with competion in Kentucky for attention on the Republican side), and Rush (oh, what a useless windbag, who offers nothing positive to anyone and who should be ignored by CNN and other media outlets who only give him the attention he wants), they all are treading water in a dying Republican swamp of cynicism, bigotry and negativism. CNN, quit giving them – especially Rush – the time of day!

    June 1, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Terry, Cape Coral, Florida

    Of course in public the Republicans are going to dissagree with Rush and make it appear as if they are taking the high road here but we know in private they are all saying.."You go Rush, YOU DA MAN"....

    It is sad when a "shock jock" is the leader of a national party...

    June 1, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |

    Do you think Republicans are starting to get it the American People are fed up with the Nasty fighting bashing politicts!

    June 1, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Isn't everyone smarter than a FOX NEWS spokesmodel?

    Gutless McConnell got off the air and immediately placed a call to Boss Limbaugh for further instructions on how to continue to destroy the Rushcheneycan party.

    June 1, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Deb

    Rush Limbaugh is the BEST thing to happen to the Democrat Party.

    June 1, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Patti

    Bush Sr. nominated her into the US District Court in the Southern District in New York in 1992. She got the Republican nomination for justice because she is good. When a Democrat nominates her, she is bad. What is wrong with politicians? If the next Republican president (hopefully not elected in my lifetime) votes her into anything she will be wonderful again. They should pull their heads out of their behinds.

    June 1, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Evi Lafferly:
    Watch the fool grin, even as he is giving his insidious instructions to his followers to destroy the USA."

    Evi, darling, Bush is no longer president. You can come out form under the bed now.

    June 1, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. JB

    Anyone who attempts to deny that Sotomayors comments were racist, is not being honest with themsleves. They are probably biased liberals who believe their party is infallible. Just change the players in the quote, and tell me if a white man said it, would minorities be picketing? Her comment was a hispanic woman with her experiences, WILL MORE OFTEN THAN NOT COME TO BETTER CONCLUSIONS THAN WHITE MEN. Therefore, hispanic judges make better decisons, hence she belives they are better judges. The race makes them better judges. There is no arguing this. It is racist and she should have to explain herself. And to those who are saying its about context, you are just making excuses and letting your loyalty to your party, get in the way.

    June 1, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. ThinkAboutIt

    I think that what Don Imus said about "nappy-headed" women basketball players was horrible and insulting and that he was rightly taken off the air.

    What I don't understand is Rush Limbaugh is allowed to stay on the air and continue to lie, distort, incite violence and in general, call for the failure of our President and by extension, our country. Limbaugh degrades anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with him.

    June 1, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. Lori

    Yeah, Mr. McConnell, I 'm sure you have better things to do than be the 'speech police.' Better things like propose new policies to help out the American people... oh, yeah that's right. You and the Republicans have none. My bad.

    June 1, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. Dean

    Yeah old Mitch will be apologizing by the end of the week to the grand leader of the GOP Boss Lindbaugh

    June 1, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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