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. Dee

    Please go read her entire speech. It is posted online. She simply reitereated what anyone would say of their life experiences. We all have different life experiences and to say we don't draw on them consciously or unconsciously would be ridiculous. Her statements were the same as several other people currently on the court. When you realize where you are coming from you can place it aside and judge on the merits of the law. When you don't realize it you will make mistakes. Let Congress look at her record. Her educational qualifications are excellent. You cannot dispute that. No just for the sake of saying No helps none of us.

    May 31, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. DAVE

    wayne said
    The problem is that republicans have a difficult time distingushing between racism and honesty because republicans are traditionally racist and dishonest
    Are you that stupid
    Its ok to racist as long as im honest about it.
    Racism is racism
    I guess its ok to be stupid if you dont have a brain

    May 31, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Patricia

    I would like to know why it was ok for George H.W. Bush to describe Clarence Thomas as having empathy when he was being considered for the Supreme Court but now it's a negative when President Obama uses the exact same word.
    Also a Republican and a Democratic President nominated this Judge before, where they poor judges of character? Don't just be against her without true reasons, not just she's a woman, hispanic, democrat look at real issues.

    May 31, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. ronvan

    FUNNY! Freedom of speech: Looks like it only applies if you are alone & talking to yourself. Otherwise someone might not agree with what you say and take you to court. Education & experience: Doesn't matter if you don't keep your mouth shut & if you say anything make sure it agrees with everyone. Prejudice: WE all are prejudiced, from the color of skin, religious beleifs, colors, & on & on. A sad commentary for our country that brags about our freedoms.

    May 31, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. gl, Pittsburgh

    Ames Tiedeman, Austin, Texas

    The problem now is that whites are not the only smart person in this country and it is a problem for the whites race to be the minority. Pay back is a b ain't it.

    May 31, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Richard

    Interesting, that if a white man would of made a comment against a black person back to kidergarden, they would be labeled racist for life, but not the other way around. It also seems like if you dont like what Obama is doing, you are a racist.

    Obama hasnt done anything good yet for this country, lets see what he can do first before saying anything. as of the Judge, let her rulings determine her fate.

    May 31, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Rodger Harris

    This woman is a racists who thinks that her court makes the laws. If she was a whtie male all the left wiing liberals would be crying foul. If you take away the fact that she is hispanic and she had made those awful, racists, terrible comments she would have been run out on a rail, tarred, feathered and run out of town.

    May 31, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” so they will be able to kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    Republicanese translation to English:

    "I, Mitch McConnell agree with our party's leader Rush Limbaugh because I am scared to death of him"

    May 31, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Nestor Torres

    Racial remarks hurt when those making offensive jokes or comments are in a position in which a reasonable person would expect to be able to trust them. Anyone in a public position as such, should exercise a high degree of responsibility when communicating to the public their views and humor. On the other side of the coin, we must never loose focus on what is important and consider the good qualities of those that offend us. For the many that have offended me in the professional and personal time with them, 9 out 10 have apologyzed without me saying a word. No one race is perfect.

    May 31, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Brian T

    Finally a couple of the leaders of the GOP are being semi-productive. It's good to hear. This is what our party system has gotten us, a divided country. It seems to me our current party system is used only as a vehicle to get elected. The change that I hope for is to see a day when all public officials are independents and truly represent their constituents rather than their party. Sorry to get off track there, but partisanship angers me, haha.

    May 31, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Tim

    Apparently, Sotomayor used her life experience to come to the "right" decision to allow the more qualified white firemen to be denied a promotion so that other less qualified and less determined individuals didn't have to worry about working for something in the future.

    May 31, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. yoyolite

    Tim, Being an EDUCATED BLACK FEMALE, I know how many blacks think because i live in a black society. I talk and have discussions with blacks. When UNCLE THOMAS was nominated, many blacks did not and STILL do not support him. Even his wife is white. I will not assume to think like a white man and therefore, can not make judgement on your way of thinking. However being black I definitely have one up on you on how blacks think.

    May 31, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Boricua in CA

    As a 32 year old Puerto Rican woman, I have lived and experienced certain things in my life that my white, US born husband hasn't. Therefore, there are some things that he wouldn't understand (like adjusting to a new culture while not wanting to forget mine), that I believe I would have more knowledge of. Just as a white man, he has more knowledge of other things that I haven't experienced. That is the context of Judge Sotomayor's words. Am I a racist because my culture has taught me certain things that my white male husband doesn't know?

    Also the fact that the Repubs are bringing up words from a speech she made 8 years ago shows their desperation in finding something, anything, to try to denigrate her. Has she done anything scandalous since then? The US is no longer a majority of white males. Blacks and Hispanics make up a huge chunk of the population, and the Republicans just cannot accept having a black man in the White House, and a Latina in the Supreme Court.

    May 31, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. M. McCloud

    If Rush says Judge Sotomayor is a racist, we'd better take a closer look. After all it takes one to know one.

    May 31, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. DAVE

    katic said
    Maybe, just maybe the republicans are beginning to realize the American people are sick of their negativity, hypocrasy, obstruction
    and what they are representing.
    Maybe, just maybe the will begin to do what they were elected to
    do and that is represent our country and us.
    Maybe, just maybe they will put aside their party first mentallity,
    swiftboating tactics and become honorable men.
    reid pelosi dodd frank richardson edwards
    Do i need to keep going
    its both sides
    we all need to stand for our country first
    not our great politicians or parties

    May 31, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. bob z.

    how a member of la raza can be on the supreme court is racist this is bad for the u.s.a how come the media asks every thing but that.

    May 31, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. truth15

    Having two unreconstructed southern white "gentlemen" from Missouri and Georgia lecturing a Latina on her racism – priceless. Are Newt and Rush lauching a campaign for Grand Wizzard and Vice Grand Wizzard of the GOP?

    May 31, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. yoyolite

    People are forgetting the Constitution was written with whites in mind. The constitution did not apply to slaves. They had to write an ADMENDMENT to even consider slaves as humans. So PLEASSEE.

    May 31, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Tim

    gl in Pittsburgh, I'm sure you won't pick up on this but intelligence is a relative term, for example "The problem now is that whites are not the only smart person in this country and it is a problem for the whites race to be the minority. Pay back is a b ain't it." could be considered intelligent when compared to how someone else may say it.

    May 31, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Lynn

    JB: Maybe you should actually take the time to do some research. Judge Sotomayor upheld an earlier lower court decision and the decision of ELECTED officials who decided that the test was unfair.

    As a result she followed the decision of ELECTED officials and DID NOT legislate from the bench. Two other judges agreed with her decision.

    What a sad state this country is in when "news" is based on gossip, selected quotes and media competiton based on who can promote trumped up controversy which is then passed on as factual.

    May 31, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. yoyolite

    Tim you bare sounding like a threatened white man that listens to a lot of Rush.

    May 31, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. DAVE

    The Party of NO is only “pro-life” so they will be able to kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war. May 31st, 2009 11:34 am ET

    Republicanese translation to English:

    "I, Mitch McConnell agree with our party's leader Rush Limbaugh because I am scared to death of him"
    do you ever have anything that takes a little sense to say.
    Use to be pro-life
    people like you dont need to reproduce
    up with abortion
    please keep up the good work

    May 31, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Jay

    Here we go again- John King giving more time to his republican party officials- It will be good for him when CNN finally realizes that he is biased and do what they did with their previous Beck personality- who gets to spew out his hatred at FOX.

    May 31, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Tim

    Boricua in CA,

    You are mischaracterizing Sotomayor's statement. She said that her background would allow her to make a better decision than a white person could more often than not. If she didn't realize that the way she framed her statement was ignorant, it speaks even more about her lack of qualification. She is out of touch and tone deaf, which is what the lawyers who have worked with her claim.

    May 31, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Gary in Oregon

    @Bob Z.
    You might look a little less idiotic if you found out what La Raza is. They are about as dangerous as the NAACP.
    For the Party of "Striaght up or down vote" to even talk about filibuster is another example of the height of hipocracy. But then again what else is new?

    May 31, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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