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. kate

    Am I the only one who is alarmed that if Sotomayor is confirmed there will be SIX Catholics on the Supreme Court. Is that diversity? Does the United States really want a super majority of judges who follow the Pope's narrow view of women's rights? Justice Kennedy, a Catholic, recently wrote for the court that " women are not emotionally capable of making appropriate decisions regarding their sexual life."
    Catholic women are not allowed to use contraception or participate in the church as an equal partner. Do we want one religious sect to be in total control of our value system? When I voted for President Obama I was lead believe that he would protect women's rights.

    May 31, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Nick

    Mitch McConnell is correct. People say all kinds of things and if you want to be "speech police" and analyze every little thing they said in their lives, I don't think you will ever find anyone that have no such moments of utterances that they would rather not have said.
    Look at their records and their speech patterns rather than some isolated utterance. In any case, Limbagh and Newt are bigger "racist" than many other rednecks.

    May 31, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Lori

    Yeah, that's it McConnell. Let people like Limbaugh and Republicans from southern states with little Hispanic populations make all the degrading comments towards Sotomayor and misconstruing her comments, and then the Senators that rely on the Hispanic vote will tread lightly. The SEXIST and RACIST attitude that has been displayed by the GOP against Sotomayor will not be forgotten by women voters or Hispanic voters in 2010 and 2012! Rest assured.

    May 31, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. dan

    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.
    You can blame the biased meida in their incomplete reporting on every political issue for that one.

    May 31, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. John

    Looks like ol' mealy mouthed Mitch is going to have to apologize to his mighty Rushness.....

    May 31, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Thomas

    ""Look. I've got a big job to do dealing with 40 Senate Republicans and trying to advance the nation's agenda,..."

    News Flash. The GOP agenda is no longer the nation's agenda. If you did not get the message last November, perhaps next November it will become clearer to you.

    May 31, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Lisa


    May 31, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. TK

    Thomas – The MAJORITY of the country is against same sex marriage. The MAJORITY of the country is now agaist abortion. Are those issues the liberals should just drop off thier agenda?

    May 31, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Janine Baughn

    I have just one question: Have Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney had their rabies shots? Just a pack of mad dogs with nothing better to do than foam at the mouth and spew hate.

    May 31, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. wishing

    Mitch is being a leader of his party, by not leading.

    May 31, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Steve

    There is no such thing as reverse racism for the morons still using this term. It is racism, regardless of the color of your skin...there is no reverse anything, racism is racism.

    May 31, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. ProudToBeTan

    I say "No", better days have not gone for the white (and of course most of "us" are not really "white"... we're multi-cultural, from Russia, France, England, Australia, Swizerland etc.) man and woman. Time to stand up and stop bending over to be nice to the minorities (cause they surely won't be nice to us in a few years when we're the minority). A public figure cannot be fired for making a slightly racist black (Okay, how many "black" people are really black? Most are really brown. And how many "African Americans" have were born in Africa or even visted? Most just jump on the bus for the freebies we alot to this "group"... a huh.) reference while another is promoted to the highest court while making racist comments against white men!

    May 31, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Reformed Republican

    So, when the rethuglicants use inflamatory language against the dems you're not about to play "speech police" eh McConnell. Well, here's the shoe on the other foot...
    Old rethuglicant white men from Dixie are bigoted, union busting, bible thumpin' racists and white supremists who can only decide "NO!"
    How do you like them apples now senator?

    May 31, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Republicans are the American Taliban

    "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,"

    You have no agenda...remember the budget you never turned in? Also, you only need to keep track of two things ...the N and O keys on everyones keyboards and keeping the NO button on everyones desk well lubricated.

    May 31, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. happy 101

    You know, the GOP, the party I belong to are acting like a bunch of pre-school children. Rush, Newt and all of the rest need to take a time out and cool their jets here. They act like my pre-schoolers because all of a sudden they cannot deal in what is happening to their party. Their party is really a two-party now with the moderates and the conservatives and the christian right and it is going through an identity crisis. Michael Steele should be ashamed of himself because of the statements that are made about this worthy nominee. Just because she made a statement it does not mean that this woman cannot do the job, because she can and that is why Obama picked her.Mc Connell made some sense here, even though there are some nut cases that are embarrasing the party itself. Rush is not the republican party, but an entertainer, just like his predessors like the late Joe Pyne here in Cali.

    May 31, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |

    My problem is with John King who is too timid to press the hypocrists we call Republicans. Is John King the best CNN can offer to the world through an important segment like "State of the Union"? What a shame.

    May 31, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. Terry

    Conservatives have suddenly discovered racism. They said racism didn't exist when they voted against anti-lynching laws, equal voting rights laws, affirmative action laws, equal pay laws, access to equal education laws, etc. They said that sexism doesn't exist too (which you Conservative ladies seem to have forgotten.) They voted against allowing women to vote, to get equal pay, maternity leave, family leave, etc.

    Now, they have suddenly discovered that the blight of racism is indeed stalking the land. It seems that Puerty Rican-American women have been oppressing white men, and Conservatives have decided to put a stop to it!

    Conservative voters: aren't you embarrassed by the behavior of the leaders who conned you into voting for them?

    May 31, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Ann

    WOW! Talk about Racism, Look at the coment from TRUTHSAYER.
    That has be come this nations problem, Every body cries race, When it doesn't go there way , Its a race issue. But God forbid a white Person says that......ohhhhhhh no..Believe me I as a White race have seen discrimanation to me from all races.....get over it people, Move on,

    May 31, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. alamb

    I am born in Africa, like my parents. we were poor as i was growing up. my brother was murdered in south africa and his wife raped in the process. i am of greek and french heritage. yes i am white and the guy who murdered my brother and raped his wife is black. we never caught the guy.

    so am i racist? absolutely not. do i believe however that there is reverse racism in the united states with some believing it's time whites suffered too? i absolutely believe that. this is so despicable. all americans should go back to mlk's words and realize that we have so much to do and overcome. i am appalled at the underachievement of black and latino kids and susequent poverty. why is it the fault of the white man? but as a white man i am shoulder to shoulder with men and women of all races and ethnicities to work hard to build happier communities. time to take responsability and stop the blaming.


    May 31, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. wbwhitt6

    I guess it makes sense if you only speak from your perspective. Where was the DEMS and CNN during the last few nominees??
    How Democrats tried to destroy - with the help of CNN - Samuel Alito. How about Judge Janice Rogers Brown's hearing. For those who are unsure....Brown was President George W. Bush's African-American nominee to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. If the DEMS were being honest with themselves and true to what they say they believe in then they "should have championed Judge Brown's confirmation, not because of her compelling life story, but because of her record as an exemplary judge committed to the rule of law, equality for all Americans, and her limited role as a judge. Instead, privileged, wealthy, white Democrats attacked Brown as an 'extreme right-wing' judge who didn't care about 'civil rights' or the 'down-trodden.' They were unconstrained by accusations of racism and sexism. Janice Rogers Brown, remember, is an African-American. When the Democrats ended their nearly two-year delay, including a filibuster of Brown's re-nomination in 2005, their attacks continued. They accused her of racism and they accused her of sexism. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said: 'I oppose giving Justice Brown this lifetime promotion to the second highest court in our land because the American people deserve judges who will interpret the law fairly and objectively. What is different now? A DEM put her name in. Simple and complete politics. People wake up. We are being distoryed by policical games. To make it worse we are all being played like a fiddle, because we do not look at facts. Words and emotions will bring us down. It is our charactor not the color of our skin.

    May 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Larry from RI

    Of course you don't want to play the speech police- that might upset your boss – Rush!

    Can't have the Senate Minority Leader publicly disagreeing with the GOP party leadership now can we?

    May 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Luis V.

    Why all republicans are so afraid being the underdog? Why don't they just accept the fact that Democrats are far better than republicans

    May 31, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. elizabeth c hechtman

    I must say I am very proud of the press this morning on CNN, et. al., for taking a hard line with everyone they are interviewing regarding the Sotomayor nomination.
    "I'm not policing people's comments," come on give us a break McConnell! You – and your party – have no problem policing comments when they are comments you don't agree with.
    Of course throughout history the Republican party uses crazy men – whether they are elected officials or not – when it supports their agenda – think McCarthy.

    May 31, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. L.Werner

    What disturbs me most about this particular thing isn't that she is Latina, or made a remark about white men being not as capable of doing what she can (who knows she might just be right, I mean what can she do WORSE?)..No. What dsturbs me most of all is the fact that the same people that are excusing her 'poor choice of words' now, have jumped all over others for their own poor choices of words in the past as well. I hate hypocritical behavior. I will embrace a bigot that is open about it all over a fake suckup that says everything and anything for a vote. I voted for the Democrats with Obama and his change because I believed ..truly believed..that he was for ousting the old ways and pointing america back the way it needs to be. Now I am sickened to see that the change that was touted is just more of the same. Shame on all politicians. They make a career out of deals and lies. What happened to 'By the people, for the people' ?

    May 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. joe

    I wish the far right wing would just proudly stand up and declare that they are in the business of hate-speech, fear-mongering and slander. I'd have more respect for them.

    May 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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