The Corner

McCain on Judges

Last week, John McCain didn’t really jump on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decisions as a pretext for a new emphasis on the importance of judicial appointments. Today, however, McCain worked a few paragraphs on judges into his speech to the National Sheriff’s Association:

It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds of men and women to the federal courts. These choices will have far-reaching consequences for all Americans, and perhaps especially for law enforcement. When a serious crime is investigated, prosecuted, and punished, it takes many hours and the best efforts of police, trial courts, and juries. Yet one badly reasoned opinion, by one overreaching judge, can undo it all. Just like that, evidence of guilt can be suppressed, or a dangerous predator released because of judge-made laws having little or nothing to do with the requirements of the Constitution. Even worse, when such opinions issue from the highest court, they set a precedent for many more injustices, and they add one more obstacle to the work of law enforcement.

We saw such presumption again just last week in a matter before the Supreme Court. In the considered judgment of the people of Louisiana and their elected representatives, the violent rape of a small child is a capital offense. There is nothing in our Constitution to contradict that view. But five justices decided the people’s judgment didn’t take into account “evolving standards of decency,” and so they substituted their judgment for that of the people of Louisiana, their legislators, their governor, the trial judge, the jury, the appellate judge, and the other four justices of the Supreme Court.

It’s a peculiar kind of moral evolution that disregards the democratic process, and inures solely to the benefit of child rapists. It was such a jarring decision from the Court that my opponent, Senator Obama, immediately and to his credit expressed his disagreement. I’d like to think this signals a change of heart on his part about his votes against the confirmation of two of the four dissenters in the case, Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. More to the point, why is it that the majority includes the same justices he usually holds out as the models for future nominations? My opponent may not care for this particular decision, but it was exactly the kind of opinion we could expect from an Obama Court.

Should I be elected president, I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. They will be the kind of judges who believe in giving everyone in a criminal court their due: justice for the guilty and the innocent, compassion for the victims, and respect for the men and women of law enforcement.

With so many factors lining up against him — Bush approval in the 20s, Republican party identification low, the price of gas — and with some significant portion of the Republican base still uncomfortable with him, and with his own inclination to blurt out things like “[Comprehensive immigration reform] will be my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” McCain could do a lot worse than spend time talking about the Obama Court.

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