May 31st, 2009
02:17 PM ET
14 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: Extra • Mitch McConnell • State of the Union
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Dan, TX

    For everyone who states here that Sotomayor is a racist, you are entitled to your view. But she is going to be a Supreme Court Justice and there is nothing you can do about it. So just sit back and enjoy it.

    May 31, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. mr. D

    No Ideas * No Future

    May 31, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Scott G.

    Fact: The Earth's human population is 3% white.

    Experience: Ever been a white male trying to get a meal at Denny's in a black neighborhood? I have. And I got to experience racism, first hand.

    Fact: I have a bi-racial child. The custody of which has been determined by black and white judges.

    Observation: what this lady said is racially toned, but not racist.

    Observation: the minority leader of the senate copped-out.

    Observation: the appointments of Alito and Roberts were politically negotiated (compromised) on account of the GOP's "nuclear option" to shut down debate and a supermajority.

    Shoe's on the other foot now, and the other foot has taken a thumping. The senate minority is keeping its toes out of the way of the door it kept closed.


    May 31, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Stefan

    @ smitty:

    Dude, I really don't think she is against anyone's right to "bare arms".

    I'm sure you have at least a 6th grade education. Try using it once in a while...

    May 31, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Tony Justin

    Why is CNN trying to become FoxNews light? I have noticed a substantial policy shift to the right over the past three months. Inflammatory statements made by right-wing bomb throwers are reported with courtesy and grace, and responses from the left are reported in a disparaging way. Newt Gingrich is treated as a thoughtful and courteous intellectual, and Dick Cheney is treated as a second Jesus. Lou Dobbs has lost his mind and become Lou Beck-Hannity-Dobbs.

    May 31, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. CAT

    Sotomayor is a fantastic choice. I support President Obama's pick 100 percent. But I'm actually writing to CNN to say, I am so sick and tired of hearing what Rush Limbaugh has to say every day, that I've had to completely turn CNN off! Limbaugh doesn't even have a college education. . . and I expect to hear what people have to say that are more intelligent than I am on CNN, not people who are uneducated. Neither he or Hannedy (sp??) have more than a high school education!! PLEASE. . . STOP, stop passing on all the stupid things they have to say. THEY LOST THE ELECTION AND WE WANT TO HEAR MORE POSITIVE THINGS FROM THE EDUCATED PEOPLE WHO WON!! You're ruining CNN!!

    May 31, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. RoadKill

    I want my Republican Party BACK!!! It's been hijacked by NUTZ! My main concern is fiscal responsibility!!!!! We (GOP) spent $5 TRILLION! Second: Get off my back and out of my affairs. We (GOP with LOTS of Dem support) conducted illeagal wire taps!!! OMG! This is NOT my conservative party. Recommendations: (There were lessons learned)
    1) Turn down the volume. We sound hateful and racists... We're not.
    2) Fiscal control. (We know, now, that not ALL regulations are bad. lol!)
    3) Fight to restore our rights.
    4) Address abortion and gay marriage in a responsible way. (Give women every opportunity to keep the child. Define marriage. Is polygamy now to be legal? Hey, they're consenting adults! lol!)
    5) Get out of foreign countries where our intrests are not CLEARLY defined. (Do the job, and get out, where we have too.)

    This attack, on a liberal judge, will not serve us. Most Americans do agree with my comments, above. We can only help America to help herself. We are STILL the Grand Ol Party...... We just got lost for a while.

    May 31, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. LouAz

    "'better things to do" ?
    Yea ? Just what are they ? You and the Flat Earth Party havn't done much of anything for 8+ years, except vote no on everything in the last 3 months. Go back to sleep. Obamarama and the 21st century Dems are trying to take care of the country. You and your party (sic) are nothing but a distraction since you have decided not to participate in the Government of the USA.

    May 31, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Patrick of Honolulu

    Her nomination, solely due to her ethnicity and gender, could be called racist/sexist, but her comments are not. She merely describes the different perspecives we all gain by living different lives. Adding hers to the Supreme Court is as valid as anyone. I only wish she had been nominated because of pure merit.

    May 31, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Pthat dub


    Did you forget the things that have happened in our state? White firemen and policemen were passing along the tests and answers to their siblings? The fact that policies were put in place for both that their sons and daughters got preference over other qualified candidates? These types of policies are not racist on face value but are a form of discrimination that skew the number of minorities getting these jobs.

    May 31, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Mac

    Honestly, The republicans should be grateful that Obama picked this very MODERATE judge. She was first appointed to the federal courts by George H.W Bush!!!! She has an ambiguous record on abortion and liberals have been worried about her 'not being progressive enough'. Serously, what do they hope to accomplish if they DO succeed by blocking her nomination. I guarantee that if she does get blocked (which seems really unlikely) Obama will pick an even more liberal justice.

    Be careful what you wish for conservatives!!!!

    May 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Deepster

    This anchor keeps trying to put words in Mitch's's obnoxious

    May 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. JR

    Anybody want to bet how long before McConnell is crawling back to Limbaugh to kiss his asss?

    May 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. ck

    This type of thinking is FRIGHTENING!!

    A person makes a statement and we are all supposed to disregard it because it isnt in line with the "agenda"

    WAKE UP AMERICA!! We are heading down a very very self destructive path.

    May 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. JR

    So champly, she would NOT be a racist if she referred to herself as a "white man" instead of a "latino woman", is that you point ?

    May 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Proud Soldiers Mom

    Tommy Perkins must live on vegas dr. between Jones and Decatur. That whole area smells of meth when I have to drive through it.
    Smart, brave policemen!

    May 31, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. charles-dallas

    where were these "racism police" when Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and other fully fledged racists run the show. Shame on the republicans.

    May 31, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Morgan

    I still don't get why people are trying so hard to think that she's a racist. Her comment basically said "White people are far more privileged than minority races." Does anybody really think, even for a second, that this is NOT true? Believe me, in social progressive states minorities are still unfairly targeted with unflattering stereotypes and they are a long way from equal representation.

    She may have set too harsh of a racial tone in that statement, but the truth of the matter is that white people still hold all the cards and social advantages. The truth is, all these old white men in Congress probably never met a struggle so hard as Sotomayor's young life. And no matter what anybody says, it is far more accurate to have base your judgement on real experience than to 'imagine' what it would be like in the average American's shoes. And the average American is a lot different than it was a generation ago, both racially and economically.

    May 31, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. gl, Pittsburgh

    Yeh, cuz I dont likes me none of tha white man. They gots to much of da money and I needs to get mah riches from dem cuz I aints gots nones. My moms said dat I needs to gets mines and dat I needs to gets it from da white man so I votededs for Obammy cuz mah mammy likes obammy.

    Yeh, now gimme mah moneys.

    May 31, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Nancy

    What really scares me is that there are people in this country who are so uneducated that they only read blogs. How about reading the entire speech, instead of just the out-of-context statement by Sotomayor. Smitty, I'm talking about you, you wingnut!

    May 31, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. JKHouston

    If you read her entire statement, in the context of the time, she was trying to make a point that someone from her life experience would make a decision differently than a person (white man) who did not have the similar life experience. Poor word of choice YES, racist – NO. A person can not be defined as racist just because of ONE word in a statement made so long ago. What does her public service record show, that is what matters.

    May 31, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. steve

    Can't wait for one or two days when he retracts all he said and apologizes to Rush. We have an office pool as to the exact time of the apology. anyone want in? God are the republicans SO's great.

    May 31, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. Diana

    We better hope she doesn't make the grade here. We don't need a liberal, touchy feely supreme court justice. It's getting might old how as soon as we get a black president everything is about race. This election has polarized our country. This nomination will set us back for years.

    May 31, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Mark

    So based on the attitudes of the right wing bloggers here, her comments were racist,ethnic, whatever. Let's also apply that to the right wing judges. Alito has said that he thought of his ethnicity and the experience of his family in the past. Has Clarence Thomas ever discussed his black background? According to these people, their own kind shouldn't be on the Supreme Court. You people need to learn how to think and listen to other opinions. We all belong to the human race.

    May 31, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. J.Crobuzon

    So, he disagrees a bit, but not enough to stand up to Rush? What a bunch of cowards.

    May 31, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12