Yet, there’s no denying the distance between McCain and Clinton/Obama on judicial appointments is vast. They are polar opposites – as far as right is from left, dark from light, high from low. McCain said, “My two prospective opponents and I have very different ideas about the nature and proper exercise of judicial power.” He said, “We would nominate judges of a different kind, a different caliber, a different understanding of judicial authority and its limits,” and predicted that Obama will “attempt to justify judicial activism.”
To make a point, McCain contrasted Obama/Clinton with himself in how they approached the confirmation of judicial nominees Roberts and Alito. “Senator Obama was among the 22 senators to vote against this highly qualified nominee,” McCain said referring to Justice Alito. Both Clinton and Obama opposed Chief Justice Roberts.
However, McCain voted to confirm Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “In the Senate back then,” he said, “we didn’t pretend that the nominees’ disagreements with us were a serious disqualification from office even though the disagreements were serious and obvious.” This stands in stark contrast with the typical liberal who opposes any nominee by a Republican president.
The big question is: What does “strict construction” actually mean? Is it carefully reading and following the words of the Constitution, or is it merely following case precedent? If the former, McCain, with the support of the court, could substantially roll back federal intrusion, power and taxation. If the latter, it would merely mean cruising along a little slower, but essentially in the same direction as Democrats. Hints of the former appear in Sen. McCain’s voting record.
The presidential nomination of judges is not just some esoteric idea. It is something that reaches down into every American’s daily life and affects how we live now and in the future. In the upcoming presidential election, this should be a matter of concern for every voter.