Skip to comments.Leahy: 'Activist' Nominee Won't Get Vote
Posted on 07/27/2005 11:38:09 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
Top Judiciary Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont said he will vote against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts if the judge seems likely to pursue an "activist" philosophy. Another Democrat said Roberts assured him he is no ideologue.
In an interview broadcast Tuesday on Vermont Public Radio's "Switchboard" program, Leahy said he would vote against the appeals court judge if it seemed as if he would pursue an activist agenda on the court. In selecting Roberts, President Bush emphasized that he was looking for someone who would not legislate from the bench.
Leahy said he's worried that Roberts might try to unravel matters that should be settled law.
Denouncing conservatives on the current court, the Vermont senator said in the interview: "They have struck down parts of the Violence Against Women Act, environmental acts, child safety legislation."
"They've knocked down all these, basically writing the law themselves," Leahy added. "I want to find out if he's going to be as active as this - as people like Justice (Antonin) Scalia and Justice (Clarence) Thomas, who have almost willy-nilly overruled things."
Leahy also said any Supreme Court nominee who doesn't agree that Roe v. Wade is established legal precedent would have difficulty getting confirmed.
"Just as you would not have a justice nominee who said, 'Well I wouldn't consider Brown vs. Board of Education settled law,' I don't see how they could get confirmed," Leahy said. "I don't see how somebody who said that they didn't consider Roe vs. Wade settled law ... I don't see how they get confirmed."
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 case that established a woman's right to an abortion. Brown v. Board of Education is the 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down school segregation.
But Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who also sits on the Judiciary panel, said he was assured by Roberts on Tuesday that he would not act as an ideologue if he makes it to the Supreme Court.
"He told me flatly that he is not an ideologue and said that he shares my aversion to ideologues," Schumer said in a speech prepared for the National Press Club. "Furthermore, he said I could repeat that publicly - that he is not an ideologue."
Meanwhile, senators sparred anew Wednesday over when confirmation hearings should begin. Democrats continued to push for more documents that could reveal the more about his thinking on controversial issues.
As Roberts, 50, continued to make courtesy calls on senators like Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Senate Republicans and the White House worked to try to assure a confirmation vote before the court begins a new term in early October.
Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would convene hearings as early as Aug. 29 if necessary to meet that timetable. A later date - perhaps Sept. 6 - also was possible, he said, if Democrats commit to a confirmation vote before the start of the high court's new term on October 3.
Democrats who are anxious to learn more about Roberts' views say his supporters are trying to push them into holding the confirmation vote before they get all of the paperwork they need. The White House released some of the documents on Tuesday, but Democrats want more, particularly from the time when he worked in the Reagan administration and, later, the administration Bush's father, George H.W. Bush.
Roberts was 26 when he served in the Justice Department as a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith during the Reagan administration. The 1981-82 files released Tuesday by the National Archives paint a picture of a politically savvy attorney who showed some impatience with "judicial activism."
One issue Roberts focused on was appeals by prisoners, who in the 1980s had several avenues of challenging their sentences in both state and federal courts. Since then, courts generally have limited prisoners' options, with justices this past term clashing over how closely they should scrutinize death penalty sentences by state courts.
The availability of federal court appeals, "particularly for state prisoners, goes far to making a mockery of the entire criminal justice system," Roberts wrote in a Nov. 12, 1981, memorandum, decrying the endless appeals that "obscures the rare serious claim."
Roberts also counseled the Reagan administration against some affirmative action policies, issuing a strong criticism of a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report urging broader use of racial preferences.
He noted that a city police department had recruited minority cadets only to see them fail or drop out. "There is no recognition of the obvious reason for failure: The affirmative action program required the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates," Roberts wrote.
The White House is invoking attorney-client privilege in withholding legal writings by Roberts when he was principal deputy solicitor general under the first President Bush.
"From what we know now, John Roberts had a hand in some of the most aggressive assaults on civil rights protections during the Reagan administration," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said.
Committee aides on Tuesday began sifting through the first of thousands of documents to be made available, dating from Roberts' tenure as a special assistant in the Justice Department, and in the White House counsel's office in 1983-86.
As a historical footnote, one memo was hard to beat - a one-page paper in which the young Roberts reported that beginning "my first day on the job" he had been helping O'Connor prep for her own confirmation hearings to the high court.
"The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments," Roberts wrote in the Sept. 17, 1981, memo.
Good thing he wasn't voting on judges in the early 1950's, when "seperate, but equal" had been settled law for more than 50 years.
Mr. Leahy is a socialist and he sure ISN'T Catholic. He is also a whining, big-government bazoo who couldn't find water if he fell out of a boat.
Phew. Feel better now.
It's sort of like addressing either of these two men as "the Honorable" Senator. LOL.
Right, Schumer's not an ideologue, the Pope's not Catholic, and bears don't relieve themselves in the woods.
I think it goes without saying....
I've never understood why democrats are so scared of Roe v Wade getting over turned ... if it is over turned, then that doesn't outlaw abortion... it only just returns the issue to the states..
Democrats have always claimed that the vast majority of americans support abortion rights...
So what are they afraid of? If the vast majority of people actually do support it... then their elected state representatives will enact legislation to protect their right.
Of course the reality is that they know the vast majority of americans don't support abortion, and given the chance will pressure their state legislatures to outlaw them.
I was thinking the same thing -- according to Leahy's dumb-ass yardstick, Plessy v. Ferguson should still be the law of the land.
Patrick Leahy is poster child material for term limits!
To do so probably requires a large amount of alcohol.
The new Dem talking point - get used to it - Conservatives are the activists... Sheesh.
I like how his definition of a 'judicial activist' isn't one that writes his own laws, but one that 'overturns precident'.
So, yah, one that overturns 'laws' that previous activist corts wrote, equals a judical activst.
Only a Dem could say this with a straight face.
I wonder how Lakoff feels about the Democrats effectively stating that his lessons on how to frame an issue have been disregarded. They are now ignoring him, and trying to take our arguments to use as their own. LOL
How sad. They cannot argue on their own terms, their own beliefs. They are simply obstructionists and hangers on.
Oh well. To our advantage. We have this argument down cold. The public understands the positions of each. The Dems cannot win on our turf. They couldn't win the WOT in 2002 and 2004 by trying to minimize our strengths, and they cannot win on arguments of Judiciary activism.
How do you feel about Kelo, Leahy? Liberal activists overturned the set precedent of the Constitution to legislate from the bench. Do you applaud this action? Do you want more Justices like Ginsburg, Stevens and kennedy legislating from the bench to take away the property rights of average Americans?
Activism, Senator, is not overturning bad precedent that wasn't settled on the Constitution. Activism is creating precedent that isn't within the Constitution to justify enforcing personal views down everyone's throat. Such as citing foreign law to make a ruling.
Too bad there is a cut-off age for active duty military service. I would like to send Leaky Leahy off to Iraq where our young men could give him lessons in manhood and love of country. It makes me sick that these idiots are more concerned with their own egos/power than they are in doing the right thing.
Sen. L: We don't need your stinkin' vote.
Abortion was legal in 23 state before Roe V Wade. I am assuming that those 23 states would then again have legal abortions.
Tell them anything they want to hear Roberts and then "ideologue" the libs to death after you are confirmed.
"Leahy also said any Supreme Court nominee who doesn't agree that Roe v. Wade is established legal precedent would have difficulty getting confirmed."
Then I guess we'd better bring back slavery....after all, Dred Scott was "established legal precedent".