As John McCain continues to work to win over right-wing leaders, activists, and voters, the one constant theme he has been hammering is his pledge to nominate judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; a promise that has lately been paying dividends.
But now it looks like some disgruntled Republicans are starting to push back against the idea McCain can be trusted to uphold his promise. For instance, Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal less-than-subtly entitled “Judges Are No Reason to Vote for McCain“:
The judiciary is becoming an important election issue. John McCain is warning conservatives that control of today’s finely balanced Supreme Court depends on his election. Unfortunately, his jurisprudence is likely to be anything but conservative.
Mr. McCain is a convenient convert to the cause of sound judicial appointments. He has never paid much attention to judicial philosophy, backing both Clinton Supreme Court nominees – Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He also participated in the so-called “Gang of 14,” which favored centrist over conservative nominees as part of a compromise between President George W. Bush and Senate Democrats.
[E]ven if a President McCain were to influence the court, it would not likely be in a genuinely conservative direction. His jurisprudence is not conservative.
Barr obviously has his own electoral agenda in mind by seeking to undermine McCain’s appeal to conservative voters on the issue of judges in hopes of winning their support himself, he is not alone in making the case that McCain’s promises on judges cannot be trusted, with Bruce Bartlett making the same point in an op-ed in Politico:
[McCain] has already repudiated the best hope Republicans had for circumventing Democratic opposition: the so-called nuclear option, which would have forced the Senate to give all federal court nominees an up-or-down vote. McCain basically destroyed any hope of getting a parliamentary ruling on this scheme by putting together the Gang of 14, a bipartisan group of senators that agreed to allow all qualified nominees to have a vote before the full Senate.
Conservatives have to ask themselves whether the man who torpedoed the nuclear option is really likely to fight to the bitter end for the kinds of justices they want to see on the court.
McCain needs all the help he can get right now winning over right-wing leaders and having former high-profile Republicans out there undermining his key selling point and reminding them of his role in the “Gang of 14” certainly isn’t helping his cause.