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. Aaron Gershoff

    I'm a Democrat (not a liberal) and I support Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. I also find Sen. McConnell's comments completely proper. I have absolutely no issue with a thorough vetting of Judge Sotomayor. If anyone is going to find (important) dirt, it will be the opposition, and I want to hear it.

    May 31, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. LeMalin

    No sane person would pay attention to Mr. Limbaugh comments. I rest my case.

    May 31, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Brian, Albany NY

    White people are afraid that somehow, somewhere, some brown person is getting away with something.

    May 31, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Terry

    Let him cast the first stone who:

    – has never used a racial epithet

    – never told a race joke, (A Frenchman, an Englishman, two Mexicans, and a Texan were in an airplane that developed engine trouble...)

    – never made a crude comment about people who live in the "bad side of town"

    Conservatives have suddenly discovered racism. Heretofore, they have denied its existence in America. Suddenly, however, they must protect the nation from the wicked racism of Judge Sotomayor. They do not feel any need to protect blacks, hispanics, and other minorities from racism. They feel no need to protect women from sexism – which also does not exist. In fact, the only place in America where racism exists, apparently, is that hotbed of racism called the federal judiciary.

    It reminds me of the debates about the minimum wage law, when Conservative leaders and CEOs solomnly assert that they oppose any increase in the minimum wage because it would reduce the number of jobs available to the poor. In fact, the only way Conservatives can think of to help the poor is to keep their wages low.

    What amazes me the most is the number of suckers who believe them.

    May 31, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Alberto

    It's about time there is a Latino/a representing the largest minority in this country on the Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor is qualified to serve in the highest court on the land. I'm an independent voter that has voted republican on all the elections. I'm raising 2 boys to be independent with republican tendencies. However, I promised this to the Republican Party, I'll never vote Republican again and will raise my boys not to vote republican if they continue to use the race card in order to tarnish Judge Sotomayor's reputation. This is the feeling of the Latino community. The make-up of the Republican Party, old white man, is a dying breed and the party is destined to disappear if they don't change their ways. Most minorities, white women, Latinos, blacks, Asians and young people, are not looking at race anymore. I suggest the old white men in the Republican Party do the same. Need to go back to the times of A. Lincoln in order to save the Republican Party. They need to recruit minorities if they want to survive.

    May 31, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. John Z.

    Mitch McConnell missed his calling. He should have been an undertaker.

    May 31, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Levis Valenzuela

    Wow!!! The white men are feeling being discriminated in America, hey at least the police are not letting the dogs loose on them or the fire fighters are not using water hoses, not yet anyway.

    May 31, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Liberals are retarded


    We need to start placating these idiot minorities. They don't understand that racism can be put forth on a white person by a person of color. We need to figure out a strategy to make these morons realize that their racism is real.

    Apparently, the whole, easy example of "if this were a white man involved with a white group called The Race who said this....." is way too difficult for a liberal to comprehend. I'm gonna go figure this out.

    May 31, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Kevin B

    Terry- Very well put...........................! The hipocracy of the GOP knows no bounds

    May 31, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. tommy perkins

    You want to know what racism is. Racism is watching outside my window on vegas drive in las vegas. As the police zoom up and down the street randomly pulling over blacks and mexicans like a frogger game or something. Anyone want to see it. Its' all day the majority of the people dont even get tickets. Just run their names then let them go. It's crazy

    May 31, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. not going to get into policing

    good apply that to the legislative process

    May 31, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. tommy perkins

    After making the mistake of voting for Bush twice. And how they are acting now. I would never vote for another republican. Untill they can learn to listen to the people. Since our country is supposed to be based on a concept of for the people BY the people. And "liberal are retarted" sticks and stones man, sticks and stones.

    May 31, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. truth15

    This media flap is just Gingrich and Limbaugh once again trying to rally the GOP base around an unreconstructed KKK agenda. Their attempt to sell the GOP base and the country on the position that the real victims of racism is this country are southern white men (like themselves) is ahistorical, polemical and pathetic. Rush, Newt, you're not the victims here, you're the problem

    May 31, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. DJ

    She believes in legislating from the bench. That is not the way our forefathers set up our government/supreme court. The supreme court is assigned to rule whether laws are constitutional or not. They should not create new laws-it is not their job in our government. She believes that judges should create/legislate from the bench. That is wrong and we should not let that happen. I don't care whether she is black, white, brown, first Martian to sit on the bench, etc. What happened to the best man or woman being selected for the job not the best minority person? Isn't that reverse discrimination?

    May 31, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Alan

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

    Oh, so if you go to college, law-school, spend 20 years as a lawer, get to be a federal judge, and finally get in the running for the Supreme Court, that's lackluster and mediocre?!?

    Wow, so what do YOU do for a living JB? I mean, other than sit in your parents basement with a level 80 World of Warcraft character?

    May 31, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. sensible Cape Coral FL

    If Scalia and Alito belong to the Italian American Club, does that make them members of the Mafia? If Sotomajor belongs to La Raza how does that make her a racist?

    May 31, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. RepubliKLANs Are Stupid As Stupid Does

    RepubliKLAs can kiss the Hispanic votes goodbye.

    Enough of their denigrating of Latinos and calling Sotomayor a rascist.

    This woman was nominated based on her experience, but the White folks in this country always takes someone's words and twist & turn it to cast minorities as being rascist....

    Whereas for the last couple centuries, the racial bias embedded in the US constitution and the systemic rascism orchestrated by the White race all over the world, have wrecked more havoc to not only ordinary Americans but people all over the world; yet they will nit pick on one word or statement said by the judge Sotomayor as a crime to pay for the evil sins they've committed!!!!

    White folks need to look beyond the pale of their skin color and realize that they alone do not inherit this earth...we are all people of color!!!!!!!

    May 31, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    Hucklebee got her name wrong on his blog. That says it all!

    May 31, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. Purple Spider

    Hate in this country needs to stop! All you hear is racist, radical and far left remarks. We are supposed to be Americans and we need to act like Americans! We still have 'freedom of speech" and means that everyone is entitiled to their opinion, whether you like it or not! Judge Sotomayer should be given the respect and a chance to proceed through the process of assuming this position for the Supreme Court.

    May 31, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. kavita

    I can't believe people give relevance to Rush or Newt. If she is qualified then she should be confirmed. I am a "brown" person and I DO know what racism feels like. I NEVER treat anyone with disrespect based on their skin color after having been treated with such behavior. It was in high school by a teacher who refused to acknowledge my presence. The same occurred in Pharmacy College by some of the professors. I am not bitter, I feel sorry for individuals who hate people based on their skin color.

    May 31, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. tommy perkins

    So DJ did Roe VS. Way make itself up....
    The supreme court has always defined the law wether it was right or wrong. Constitutional or not. But they always gave you there inturpretation of the law. If not wouldn't it always be a unanimous decision.

    May 31, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. wayne

    What will these childish little republican's do next? It's a good thing to know that the democrats didn't whine so much when they lost out on the elections over the past years, you know, back when the Bush regieme stole the vote, and then all of the money. You would think they would just shut up and go back to their mansions. But calling a female hispanic supremem court justice a racist just shows how shallow they all are. I mean, it's not like she has a record of sexually harassment like Thomas. She made one statement somewhere in her career which indicated that she was a good candidate because she was a hispanic woman. They way they are acting, you'ld think she said all white men are idiots. If she would have said all "fat, white, male, drug addict, radio personalites who have never made it through college, who want America to go down the tubes because we elected an African American as president"...., many of us would have applauded her, not accused her of rasism.

    The problem is that republicans have a difficult time distingushing between racism and honesty because republicans are traditionally racist and dishonest.

    And I'm a conservative, white male.

    May 31, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Are you kidding me???

    What if I were to post a comment here on CNN saying "VOTE OUT THE BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE...BLACK MEN ARE THROUGH IN THIS COUNTRY"??!! I would be certainly marked as a the least. But you think you have some sort of right to speak that way about white men (people)?

    This is the problem with racism today. The people of race minorities in this country feel that they deserve to take revenge against "the white man" and unleash their pent up fury from years of exploitation. They are slowly becoming the new bigots and racists of our country.

    These "white men (women)" are our fellow countrymen – our neighbors. If we don't stop this hate speech and this reverse racism, we as a society will revert back to the times of segragation if not the times of slavery. You think it can't happen again? You get a strong enough mob mentality and we will soon be keeping our white friends and neighbors from drinking out of the same water founatins.

    I, as a HISPANIC WOMAN, am sickened by what is now acceptable in this country. Yes, that includes Sotomayor's comments.

    May 31, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. mario - streamwood IL

    Being a racist is rather difficult to prove (unless one comes out blazing with racist rants), so arguing about this racist issue is moot.

    What we should be discussing about is her "Judgment." In a racially sensitive society like ours, what in the world was Sotomayor "thinking" when she made that statement? It shows poor judgment. Even the White House is admitting she worded it poorly. So her judgment leaves something to be desired...and some people still want her to be in the Supreme Court?

    A judge with a better judgment would have said – Let's hope a latina with the richness of her heritage and experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than people who have not shared our history. Had she made this statement instead of injection a specific race, that would have shown good judgment.

    Let's not argue whether she is a racist or not. We will never know. But we can argue about her judgment and judgments. We need a judge (especially in the Supreme Court) who would be judicious in his/her thought process.

    May 31, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Had It

    @ DJ - Justice Scalia (or wad it Alito) also said that policies are sometimes set or formed in a court of appeals.

    GHW Bush said of either Justice Scalia or Alito that they had "great empathy".

    WHY is the GOP so hung up on these two things now? 2010 can't com soon enough.

    I get Scalia and Alito confused because I would have never wanted either NOT be confirmed because of frivolous statements made.

    Thomas is the one that makes my skin crawl – if he ever put a hair on my soda can he would talk with a much higher voice.

    May 31, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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