In a Tuesday speech that could have significant ramifications for the pro-life cause, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain pledged to use President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court appointees as a “model” for his own choices.
He also announced the formation of a committee to advise him on such judicial appointments, which have greatly affected the legal status of abortion in the United States.
The Washington Post reports that Senator McCain spoke on Tuesday before a crowd of several hundred at Wake Forest University. He decried what he called “the common and systematic abuse of our federal courts by the people we entrust with judicial power.” The Arizona senator also said that Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. “would serve as the model for my own nominees, if that responsibility falls to me.”
Both of the justices appointed by President Bush are believed to oppose the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Some observers believe only one more Supreme Court justice opposed to the decision must be appointed for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
The remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton both opposed the nominations of Roberts and Alito.
McCain zeroed-in on Senator Obama for voting against Justice Roberts, saying the senator “went right along with the partisan crowd.”
“Apparently nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it -- and they see it only in each other," he said, according to the Washington Post.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor responded to McCain’s attack, saying, "Barack Obama has always believed that our courts should stand up for social and economic justice, and what's truly elitist is to appoint judges who will protect the powerful and leave ordinary Americans to fend for themselves."
McCain said that he himself had voted for President Bill Clinton’s two Supreme Court nominees because, he said, he believed they were qualified.
Later on Tuesday, Senator McCain announced the formation of a conservative-leaning Justice Advisory Committee, which he said will advise him on judicial appointments if he wins the presidency. The group will be chaired by former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. Members of the committee include Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor who is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.
Besides legal abortion, a conservative change in the Supreme Court could affect other court decisions involving discrimination, civil liberties, private property, and other issues.