The Hill reports that even though John McCain has repeatedly and explicitly promised to nominate judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the Right is still a little unsure that they can trust him and so they decided to work explicit language into the GOP platform in order to send him a clear message:
Republican conservatives have given John McCain a warning on what kind of justices he may appoint to the Supreme Court as president.
Their message: no surprises.
Authors of the 2008 GOP platform have included specific language urging Sen. McCain (Ariz.), the party’s nominee, not to appoint “stealth nominees” to the court. That language was the result of lobbing by the conservative activists.
The platform makes clear that McCain should appoint jurists who have clearly defined views of constitutional interpretation.
It states: “We oppose stealth nominations to the federal bench, and especially the Supreme Court, whose lack of a clear and distinguished record leaves doubt about their respect for the Constitution.”
Conservative activists led by Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative leaders active on judicial matters, began pushing for the platform changes in May. It began a minuet between the McCain campaign and its conservative skeptics that eventually shaped the presidential platform.
The last time the Right was sending McCain explicit messages about what it expected from him, they were telling him that his choices of running mate were patently unacceptable, to which he responded by utterly capitulating and giving them everything they wanted in Sarah Palin. In fact, it seems as if his caving to their demands on Palin has actually helped assuage their concerns about his willingness to do their bidding:
Conservative leaders who worked on the platform said the strength of the document and McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate eased concerns that lingered right up until the convention.
“The two combined changed everything,” said [David] Keene [of the American Conservative Union.]