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Saturday, June 28, 2008

John McCain's View Of law Impresses Conservatives

Hard core conservatives were slow to embrace John McCain but he has impressed many of them of late, specifically regarding his views on law.

The grudging respect and newfound support for John McCain stems from his strong words on the campaign trail as well as his choices of legal advisers whom are well respected in conservative circles.

John McCain, a man that who has been called a maverick and at one time was booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference, has gone a long way in reassuring his conservative base that he would appoint high court justices more in line with Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Samuel Alito rather than the more moderate type such as Justice David Souter who has more of a liberal record.

An example regarding Roberts and Alito that was used in the original article was the fact that both justices were almost assured to vote to strike down portions of an initiative that McCain himself helped get passed into law, which was the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) better known as McCain-Feingold.

McCain-Feingold is a federal law, passed in 2002, on campaign finance, which revised some of the legal limits of expenditure set in 1974, and prohibited unregulated contributions (soft money) to national political parties.

Knowing that Roberts and Alito would vote against such a law, John McCain still voted for both men to which Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice which is a conservative group points out, "That addresses the concern that he might not appoint strict constructionist judges who are more likely to oppose McCain/Feingold.”

There was much ink dedicated to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the second amendment and an individuals right to bear arms, but what many did not hear hear much about was another decision that was handed down that day from the Supreme Court where they struck down the "Millionaire's Amendment" otherwise known as Davis v. FEC .

The Supreme Court has upheld campaign finance laws meant to drive the potentially corrupting influence of large contributions out of politics. But the millionaire’s amendment, part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, is based on a different rationale: that of compensating for the additional financial resources available to candidates willing to spend their own money.

The case was brought by Jack Davis, a Democrat who twice ran for the House of Representatives from western New York, spending or lending himself millions of dollars of his own money. He lost both times.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the asymmetry imposed by the law was unacceptable. “We have never upheld the constitutionality of a law that imposes different contribution limits for candidates who are competing against each other,” Justice Alito wrote.

The ruling on the "Millionaires Law" found here.

McCain's actions co-authoring the McCain-Fengold bill earned him scorn from conservatives at the time, but his stand on voting for judges to whom he knew would potentially strike down parts of that bill, has given conservatives the reassurance that when it comes to the rule of law and appointing high court justices, McCain will appoint those that will follow the rule of law, even when that stance will not benefit himself or his initiatives.

Hard core conservatives are traditionally one of the most reliable voting blocs in general elections for Republicans, but John McCain, having sewn up the position of the Republican presumptive nominee has not taken them for granted and has been actively working to reassure them as evidenced by his choices in legal advisers.

To that end McCain has the former Bush administration Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who co-chairs McCain’s advisory committee on judicial appointments along with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS.) and speaks to conservative groups on behalf of the McCain campaign.

That choice with others has gone a long way in impressing conservatives and convincing them that "a McCain White House will nominate sufficiently conservative jurists. "

Larry Hart, director of government relations at the American Conservative Union, makes the point, "Ted Olson being his key advisor is very promising. If people like Ted Olson are guiding selection of judges, the outcome will be very good for conservatives.”

Hart also mentions a speech that John McCain gave on May 6, 2008, at Wake Forest University, which went a long way toward reassuring uneasy conservatives and bringing them back into the fold, so to speak.

According to Hart, "We thought it was the best speech of the campaign. We were very impressed.”

The speech itself was on the topic of Judicial Philosophy can be found here.


I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist -- jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference. My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power, and clear limits to the scope of federal power. They will be men and women of experience and wisdom, and the humility that comes with both. They will do their work with impartiality, honor, and humanity, with an alert conscience, immune to flattery and fashionable theory, and faithful in all things to the Constitution of the United States.

With recent controversial decisions of late, many of which having been decided with a 5 to 4 split, conservatives are very concerned with judicial activism replacing the written laws and McCain's choices, his speeches and his recent criticism of certain decisions has gone a long way toward earning the respect of hard core conservatives as well showing them that he is not taking them for granted and working to earn their trust.

Winning the nomination for presidency for a political party is difficult and once that presumptive nominee status has been obtained it is easy to assume that the invested parties will all "fall in line" but one must remember that it doesn't always work that way and be very careful of taking reliable voting blocs for granted in an attempt to appeal to different demographics.