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. Dave

    Mitch has a big job "trying to advance the nation's agenda" back to the 19th CEntury...he's very busy...

    May 31, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. EC

    Instead of getting all worked up about one stray comment she made eight years ago to a group of hispanic students, why don't all of you who are convinced she is a racist go back an look at the decisions she's written in 17–yes 17–years on the federal bench. You will find she's actually quite moderate, even conservative, in the way she follows the "rule of law" that Republicans have now adopted as their mantra. At least Sessions, McConnel, etc. have now recognized that following Rush and Newt will indeed lead the party out of the ditch but also over a cliff.

    May 31, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. P. M. McGhee

    I would hope Rush and Newt are not the spokesmen for the Republican Party. If so, this country is headed for a one party system. We need two parties in this country and the Republican party needs to stop the overt racial divide that they are trying to hold on to. We have moved into the 21st century and there are better issues to be addressed. Racial division is going the be the downfall of this great country. Let's pull together and make this country one nation under God!!

    May 31, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Chad Cooper

    What is this I read? A Rep. standing up for what is right? Just looked outside and it is raining cats and dogs!

    May 31, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Get on with running our country.

    Well CNN I see your still playing with the headlines. I see now where in this article that mentions Limbaughs name..

    May 31, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. David Dee

    Wwell, what do you know, a Repugnican that thinks. No if he only talks to the rest of his group and get them off of "guns, abortion and tax cuts" they might will a few.

    May 31, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Rev, Huckabee says Michael Steele is the RNC's token negro that racist?

    May 31, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Pat, CA

    @Paul from Kissimmee May 31st, 2009 11:22 am ET
    Good response - couldn't agree with you more. Folks need to dump their "victim" mentality and EARN their rights by ACTING responsibly.

    May 31, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. pt

    No one race is at fault for all problems. Financially, racially, mentally, and physically handicapped can help themselves in varying degrees, but cannot blame their woes on the bogeyman. I grew up mixed race and poor; prisoners claimed and received more benefits than we received. There is not any race that can claim that it did not enslave and was not enslaved. (Yes, there were even black slave owners and white slaves in America.) Review your histories – the good and the bad. I am proud to be an American.

    May 31, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Howard Levine

    Do you relize that you agreed to bipartisanship when you elected out President? Your pary has been anything but bipartisan vy trying to rename the Democratic Party the "Democrtaic Socialist Party". It os OK that Bush an dCheney madea boatload of money off of oil and Haliberton but about 120 days into the new President we are slamming him for a stimulus package formulated under the Busgh administration. Rus limbaugh and Newt Gingrich need to go away. Your best chance for 2012 is Colin Powell and Tom Ridge. But the prviously mentioned zero's would fight them. All tthe splintering in the Republican Party is pushing people to the Libertarian Party as in Ron Paul.

    H levine Las vegas

    May 31, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. XFYR

    Just like writing on truck stop rest room stall.. Amounts to about the same thing. Stinky, vulgar and ignorant...

    May 31, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. DaMaestro

    Please! a Person of color cannot be racist. Plain and Simply put.

    May 31, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. mike,texas

    The party of No will NO themselves to extinction.

    May 31, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. scott morley

    Mitch and his buddies would LOVE to be the speech police. Its in thier nature. They just never consolidated power long enough. They already wiretapped why not control speech as well?

    May 31, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. No you didn't

    Sen. McConnell should leave that job to the Obama administration.

    May 31, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. teacheng

    This is a hilarious argument, and those people (Champly, et al) on here repeating that she is a 'racist' are in fact, of course, racists themselves. But more importantly, they are morons. Judge Alito, a VERY conservative judge, said exactly the same thing in his confirmation hearing a couple years back. Reagan said the same thing about having a woman judge on the court back in the 80s. Are they racist? Give me a break. And La Raza? You mean the organization praised by both President Bush and John McCain? Uh-huh.

    Keep digging a hole, conservatives. You've just lost another million votes.

    May 31, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. ThinkAboutIt

    All Sotomayor did was very bluntly state something we all know as true: Don't judge another until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Read her whole speech and not just the soundbites coming out of the GOP, who so desperately want to block anything President Obama wants to do.

    The fact that Sotomayor was referring to something involving race does not mean she's a racist. She has judged plenty of cases fairly and impartially.

    Let's hope that the Senate can all be adults, take a look at Sotomayor's complete record and qualifications, keep an open mind throughout the confirmation process, and then vote accordingly.

    May 31, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Richard L

    Some of the same people whose party nominated HARRIET MIERS, of all people, are now using a statement out of context in a futile effort to sabotage a FAR MORE qualified candidate.

    May 31, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Rick

    gl, Pittsburgh–you need to get a grip. You're going to pop a vein. As far as Limbaugh is concerned; he has a right to his views. Politicians paying so much attention to him is great for his ratings, but I would think politicians have more important work to do. Well, maybe not.

    May 31, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. w.l. jones

    If all the all the statement politician have made in there life time were calogne it would not be one in office. If one were alive in the forties thourgh the eighties it would sound like Hiltler any where USA. Said enough.

    May 31, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Rick

    "Ridiculous May 31st, 2009 1:08 pm ET

    Would all this speculation and scrutiny be taking place if this nominee was a white male with the same qualifications? Would they have even looked back for any little satement in one of his speeches?"

    What short, little, uh–memories libs have. Remember Robert Bork?

    May 31, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Diane

    Rush and the Republicans will take whatever they can find to get rid of her because she's a woman and a Latina. They are the racists. I have gotten plenty of emails from my Rush-listening, fox news watching friends about Mexicans and Obama that were plenty racist and now they want to talk about her. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    May 31, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. maybe they thought if they yelled racism first and loudest, we'd all forget 'their' racism


    What is racist is to pull a persons words out of context to imply racism so you can stoke the passions of your base...

    THAT'S what's racist, Chapmply

    May 31, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. ThinkAboutIt

    Regarding Sotomayor's decision in the case of the New Haven firefighters case, the city rejected the firefighter exam because the test violated Title VII, the federal civil rights law that prevents discrimination in employment. (All test scores were tossed and another test was given.)

    Sotomayor was following the law – which is what a judge is sworn to do – when she (and the entire 2nd Circuit court) made her decision regarding this case.

    Please, folks, do a little research and stop blindly believing everything that Rush and the GOP spout. The Internet is a very quick tool for finding out a lot of information – be a good citizen and stay informed.

    May 31, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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