John Fund writes:
Mr. McCain bruised his standing with conservatives on the issue when in 2005 he became a key player in the so-called gang of 14, which derailed an effort to end Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because “he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.”
My hostility to John McCain is well known to regular readers, and it’s tempting to believe this. But I’m not sure I do. I have a hard time believing John Fund would make up such a statement out of whole cloth — but the statement Fund attributes to McCain is inconsistent with a lot of other things McCain has said about Alito.
For example, McCain issued a statement about Alito in January 2006 that said in part:
I was pleased that the President nominated Judge Alito — as were many other members of this body. Though very favorably disposed, I reserved final judgment on his nomination out of respect for both the confirmation process and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I do not take the Senate’s advice and consent role lightly, and I did not want to encourage a rush to judgment without the benefit of public hearings.
Those hearings have occurred, and since then I have announced that I will vote to confirm Judge Alito. Through 18 hours and over 700 questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the judge demonstrated that he will be an intelligent, fair, and open-minded Justice who respects the judiciary’s important but limited role of interpreting the law. I believe that he is worthy of not only my own support, but that of other members of this body. And, certainly, this nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.
. . . .
As the president said earlier this week, “There has been no sign of any extraordinary circumstance except for this extraordinary thing — he’s extraordinarily capable to serve on the Supreme Court.” I could not agree more.
Mr. President, Judge Alito is a man of outstanding qualifications whose record as a thoughtful conservative has won my vote. Without any reasonable doubt, it has also earned the support of this body.
That’s pretty warm praise. And McCain has praised Alito on other occasions. After Fund’s article came out, McCain held a blogger conference call denying Fund’s assertion. (No, I wasn’t invited to participate.) He flatly denied it to Byron York as well.
Tom Maguire rounds up more McCain praise for Alito and says: “I am going with Byron York on this one.”
Well, I’d like to hear what Fund has to say about all this. But he should really provide something solid to support his assertion — because McCain’s record of praise for Alito is pretty solid.
UPDATE: So far, Fund’s only support appears to be a claim that he has multiple (unnamed) sources. I’d like to hear more. I hope we do.
UPDATE x2: I see Professor Bainbridge has quoted the same speech I quoted. He also says:
I don’t really want key social policy disputes being decided by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court except where the Constitution admits of no other option.
That’s nice. Then how about voting for a Republican in 2008, rather than saying you’re going to sit the election out?
UPDATE x3: Bryan at Hot Air has audio of Fund on Mark Levin’s radio show, in which Fund stands by his story. Bryan says we need to hear more details, and I agree.