Local Politics

McCain: Judicial appointments a key difference with Dems

Posted May 6, 2008 2:55 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2008 7:13 p.m. EDT

— With the Republican nomination all but officially his, presidential candidate John McCain used a Tuesday appearance in Winston-Salem to talk policy to North Carolina voters.

It was McCain's second speech in as many days in the Tar Heel state, and he used the opportunity to address the issue of judicial appointments.

"It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds of men and women to the courts, and the choices we make will reach far, far into the future," he told the crowd of mostly Wake Forest University students.

He said the handling of judicial nominations was one of the defining issues of the presidential campaign and a major point of separation between him and the Democratic candidates.

"Two senators – Obama and Clinton – have very different ideas from my own," McCain told the crowd.

"They are both lawyers themselves and don't seem to mind at all when fundamental questions of social policy are pre-emptively decided by judges instead of by the people and their elected representatives," he continued.

McCain made it clear that he would nominate strict constructionist judges to the federal bench.

"My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power and clear limits to the scope of federal power," he added.

He took a specific swipe at Sen. Barack Obama's vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

McCain supporters said they were impressed with his remarks, although some admit they were surprised by his focus on judicial issues. He made no push for a vote in Tuesday's North Carolina primary and did not mention the issue often cited as top of the list for voters: the economy.

"I would have liked to have heard his comments on the economy," supporter Chrisse Eckhardt said after the speech.

"However, it shows his real knowledge. He's been in the Senate. He knows what he's talking about. He knows the things that need to be fixed," Eckhardt continued.