Manny Miranda, the former legal counsel for Senate Majority Bill Frist and someone well respected in the judiciary community and among grassroots conservative organizations is endorsing John McCain. This is important because if John McCain can pass the judges test then his standing with social conservatives will improve dramatically.
McCain took quite a few hits at the time for brokering the Gang of 14 judge's deal. The fire and brimstone Republicans wanted to go for the full jugular at the time and force a rule change in the Senate so Democrats couldn't filibuster judges anymore. But McCain stepped in and prevented that. He took major hits at the time as stories flowed about his moderate streak and working with Democrats. But you know what? Looking back, it seems to have been the right move and now, a few years later; many judicial experts are now saying so. The Miranda endorsement is a feather in the cap. Read part of it below:
On judges, the choice between John McCain and Mitt Romney is easy. I know that many of you would point to Senator McCain's role in the Gang of 14. That role is misunderstood.
Certainly, John McCain is not a culture warrior and yet he has been solidly pro-life in his voting record and firm in his understanding that the issue of abortion should be returned to the States. Mitt Romney's record is not similarly comforting. Mr. Romney defends his former pro-abortion choice position by reminding us that President Reagan and George H. W. Bush were also converts to the pro-life cause. I reject the comparison. Like many Americans between 1973 and 1980, Reagan and Bush came late to understanding what Roe vs.Wade had wrought. Unlike Reagan and Bush , it took more than thirty years of public debate throughout his adult life for Mitt Romney to reach the right conclusion about federal abortion rights. If even President George W. Bush could falter in understanding his mandate on judges, how could we trust Mitt Romney's judgment.
Second, Senator McCain would not need on-the-job training on the issue of federal judicial nomination, and he is a meritocrat. He is not likely to nominate a lightweight to the judiciary. The truth is that the Gang of 14 was a coordinated response to Bill Frists's and Mitch McConnell's fear of using the "constitutional option" and desire to hold it in reserve if Democrats escalated the use of filibusters to Supreme Court nominees. In effect then, short of ending judicial filibusters by returning the Senate to its traditions and the Constitution, the Gang of 14 compromise paved the way for the confirmation of two excellent justices. This was John McCain's drafted role.
The Gang of 14 was not my only experience with John McCain playing the role of good soldier in the judicial nominations war. Unlike a few Republican senators I know, McCain did not absent himself from four extraordinary Senate floor events on judicial nominations in 2003 that I organized. I was right next to him when he walked into the beginning of the 40 hour Grand Debate. Senator McCain was a good soldier on judges in 2003 as he was again in forming the Gang of 14 for the Senate leadership in 2005.
In recent days, beginning the night before the Florida primary, McCain opponents fanned opposition to a reported comment made by Senator McCain mischaracterizing Judge Alito. On the contrary, Senator McCain has forcefully and publicly defended his votes in support of both John Roberts and Sam Alito, well to my satisfaction. As he put it, he wishes he could could clone them.