May 31st, 2009
02:17 PM ET
13 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. truthsayer

    Please!....white man speak with forked tongue.

    May 31, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Had It

    Clean house in 2010 – the old white men are through in this country. The 2-century rule of the old white men is over. The wealhy old white men protecting other wealthy old white men is over.

    Vote out the old white men. This is the 21st century, not the 17th.

    May 31, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. truthsayer

    CNN as usual rolling out GOP talking points. Shameless!!!

    May 31, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. steve kasarsky

    I wonder whether Ms. Sotomayor would follow the EEOC guidelines if she were to adjudicate a case where non-hispanic applicants for employment at an authentic Mexican restaurant were denied employment simply because they were not of Hispanic origin!

    May 31, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Loup Garou 782

    OK Senator, you don't need to be the speech police but, words have meaning( unless you are obama ) and you might want to consider the words she has used in making decisions and speeches. Sotomayor displays her hatred for the white people with a flare of pleasure.

    May 31, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. F-Dog

    I am glad to hear that the Republican party is starting to realize that they have been acting like self-serving idiots who simply do not care about the country. It is high time for the Republican party to get back to caring about America and generating ideas rather than running on being the party of obstruction.

    May 31, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Chris

    Sure is funny how the very same people who crusified Repubs in the past for 'slipping' up and using 'inappropriate' wording can now say that there's more important matters to consider than someone's words. If that's the case why are we so sensitive to words that in the past were used to describe specific types of individuals in specific races. With that being said, I would say you should be able to have your opinion, voice your opinion in whatever wording you want, and describe people with whatever words you deem appropriate. If we can't do that, we may as well become slaves indeed.

    May 31, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. pt

    No, fair is fair and equal treatment for all. Sotomayor is a racist based on previous standards. Obama has clearly shown his racism when he denied justice for the voter intimidation by the black KKK (Black Panthers). There have been many instances of racism, but these two take the cake. I am for equality and justice but never for suicide. If it's forced suicide, I am for scorched earth theory! (No, I am not referring to death here.)

    May 31, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. JT

    Racism and sexism are cornerstones of the GOP party. It's going to show up in one form or another with all of its members. And puleeze – Cornyn and McConnell repudiated other Republicans off-color remarks? This was all planned.

    May 31, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Patty Illinois

    No where in any of her statements do I see that she hates white people. Don't we all have something else to do besides critize this woman?

    May 31, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Osama Bin Laden

    You're right, all the other Republicans need to keep their mouths shut after leaving America in the shape it is in now. From a balanced budget, three trillions dollars to nothing, nil and multitudes of foreign loans. This country is like France it will just have to declare all our debts null and void. We don't owe anyone. This is what happens when the Republicans rule. BUT I'LL GUARANTEE THE FATCATS OF THE REPUBLICANS DIDN'T LOSE ANY MONEY. INCLUDE TED KENNEDY JFK's DAUGHTER IN THAT BUNCH.

    May 31, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Chris

    Had It May 31st, 2009 10:30 am ET

    "Clean house in 2010 – the old white men are through in this country. The 2-century rule of the old white men is over. The wealhy old white men protecting other wealthy old white men is over.

    Vote out the old white men. This is the 21st century, not the 17th."

    How very quickly people show their prejudices, this is exactly the type of attitude that cannot be tolerated. It's exactly the type of comments that this candidate for our highest court has been caught using. So folks, which way do you want it? Everything goes for everyone, or ..... well, maybe only for people like Sotomayor and Had It! We all know the right answer don't we?

    May 31, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Billy

    You don't need to be a speech police, but if these guys are the current mouthpiece for the GOP you need to do something. Do you think using terms like racist, biggot, and affirmative action case are going to help win over minority voters? Stop being afraid of Newt and Rush. Theses guys are going to do nothing but destroy the party.

    May 31, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. JB

    I heard that Sotomayor interceded in a case where a civil service exam produced a list of qualified candidates for a particular job. When the list of qualified candidates did not include an "appropriate" (!?) number of minorities, Sotomayor ok'd the department requesting a new list. So, the guys that studied and performed best on the exam, and therefore came out tops on the list, did not have a shot at a job and those that did not make it onto the list because of their poor performance got a chance at a job they did not appear to earn.

    Is this what we are coming to? Mediocrity and lackluster performance is rewarded because of race? This is looking really scary for our country.

    May 31, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. JB

    I also did not like the way Obama took a very long time to dance around on Sotomayor's remarks about how her gender and race would provide better outcomes than another's. That was a poor performance on his part.

    May 31, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. jake

    I was tought to not to be racist against black, asians, mexicans, etc. Now it's ok to be racist against whites? typical CNN

    May 31, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Finaly, the truth is revealed.

    May 31, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. Aaron

    Are republicans finally waking up? Good for McConnell, Cornyn, and the others calling for the Sotomayor bigots to shut up.

    May 31, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Liberal4Obama

    Mitch McConnell had a chance to stand up to the scurrilous charges been leveled at the most qualified SC nominee in 100 years and the first Hispanic to serve on the bench, but he decided to "take a pass" effectively giving a green light to the right wing radicals in his party to continue to smear her.

    Hispanics are watching and increasingly are finding that the republican party does not welcome and certainly does not represent them.

    May 31, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. JT

    @pt – Your comment shows a great deal about your character.

    May 31, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. pt

    Obama and his gang are enacting the "Animal Farm" ideals very well; standards ebb and flow.

    May 31, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. tommy perkins

    Her speach was posted online. Did any of you that are calling her a racist read it. Or are you going off of the one line that was pulled from it. If your are not smart enough to actually follow up to see it there is realy any truth to the statement. I feel sorry for your mother. Look at her statistics. How many overturned cases? How many Upheld cases? Determine for yourself who she is. Don't get your info from a couple of people who since the election has been trying to turn racism on everyone but themselves. And be honest Rush is not racist he is a stout republican. HE realy belives in his politics. And will defend at all cost. He was the same way in the '90s. And had his own tv show back then. And honestly I believe he was the biggest reason Bush Jr. Was elected. America make up your own mind. Don't listen to the loudest person in the room. That person is usualy drunk or a crack head.

    May 31, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. Kevin B

    Mr Mcconnell is backing away from the vitriolic and shrill statements from the unelected GOP shills Gingrich and Limbaugh. Too late the damage has been done.

    The GOP has got figure out that hate and fear do not play well with the majority of voters, specifically hispanic voters.

    May 31, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Gary SC

    Sounds like Mcconnels biggest problem is how do you act like a Republican and go against everything the President does, and yet try to not sound like Rush and Newt.

    May 31, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. Had It

    White. Men. Catholic.

    The make-up of the majority of the Supreme Court.

    Where are the non-white? Non-male? Non-Catholic.

    This country is not majority white catholic men.

    May 31, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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