Skip to comments.Did Bush promise to appoint a justice like [in the mold of] Scalia? Have we been misled?
Posted on 10/15/2005 3:15:52 PM PDT by Jim Robinson
Did Bush promise to appoint a justice like Scalia? CNN's Bash busted an "urban myth" with a myth of her own, while Fred Barnes changed his story -- then changed it back again
For six years, political figures and interest groups on the left, right, and center, along with reporters and commentators, have noted that during his first presidential campaign, George W. Bush promised to use Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as the model for his nominations to the court. Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes was apparently the first to report this, in a July 1999 article for that magazine. For six years, Barnes and countless others repeated this fact, and neither Bush nor any of his aides seem to have ever challenged it -- in fact, Bush did not contest Al Gore's statement in a 2000 presidential debate that Bush had made such a promise. But in recent months -- when two vacancies gave Bush the opportunity to actually make nominations to the Supreme Court -- an apparent effort to walk back the promise has been under way, with Barnes himself playing a key role through a series of inconsistent statements about his own article.
Most recently, CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash narrated a segment on the October 12 edition of The Situation Room that purported to debunk the "urban myth" that, while campaigning for president, George Bush said that his Supreme Court nominees would be in the mold of Scalia. Bash claimed that the "myth" of Bush's Scalia comments was based on a November 1999 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press in which, as Bash noted, Bush praised Scalia but didn't promise to appoint a justice like him. Bash then said that during a 2000 debate, Gore, Bush's opponent, "connected the dots" -- falsely suggesting that Gore was the first to interpret Bush's Meet the Press comments as a promise to appoint a justice like Scalia. Finally, Bash provided a clue about the source of recent efforts to walk back Bush's promise by stating that "[a] longtime time Bush aide confirms to CNN Mr. Bush didn't actually publicly pledge a Scalia or a [Clarence] Thomas, but they made no effort to clarify."
Contrary to Bash's claim, Bush's Meet the Press appearance was not the original basis for the assertion that Bush promised to appoint a justice in the mold of Scalia. Under the headline "Bush Scalia," Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes wrote in his magazine's July 5-12, 1999, issue:
WHO IS GEORGE W. BUSH'S IDEAL JUDGE, the model for nominees he'd pick for the Supreme Court? Antonin Scalia, that's who. In public comments, of course, Bush has declared his desire, if elected president, to choose judges who interpret the Constitution strictly, and Scalia qualifies on that count. Appointed by President Reagan in 1986, Scalia is one of the most conservative justices on the high court, and is part of the minority that favors overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. But when asked about the kind of judge he would really want, Bush was quite specific. "I have great respect for Justice Scalia," Bush said, "for the strength of his mind, the consistency of his convictions, and the judicial philosophy he defends."
Bush singled out Scalia in response to a written question I submitted to his presidential campaign. Some Bush aides thought he might cite Clarence Thomas, nominated by Bush's father, President Bush, in 1991, as the model for his judicial appointments. Every bit as conservative as Scalia, Thomas would likewise reverse Roe v. Wade. But Thomas is more controversial as a result of sexual harassment charges made against him by Anita Hill. Bush is not an admirer of his father's other nominee, David Souter, now one of the Court's leading liberals.
Barnes stood by his reporting for six years. Media Matters for America can find no example of either Barnes or any Bush aide correcting the July 1999 article through mid-2005. In fact, Barnes has repeatedly reiterated the point that Bush said he'd name a justice like Scalia -- and has done so as recently as this year...
Excerpted, read the rest here: http://mediamatters.org/items/200510130005
Another urban legend digged out, I guess. Looks like it first caromed off of no less than Gore himself.
P.S. Bash... whatta name for a commentator
I believe we have been misled. I have been asking and searching for any evidence that Bush ever "promised to appoint judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas." To date nothing has turned up. Bush has very clearly stated several times what he looks for in a nominee to the bench. I don't believe he has ever said his nominee's would be in the mold of Thomas or Scalia.
John Roberts said he would be the same, and his prior decisions who he means it. I suggest, as many others have said, to wait for the hearings on Miers to see whether she is in the Scalia-Thomas mold.
Of course we've been misled. By the media, who wanted to use it as a point against the President. By the pundits who ran with it because they wanted to believe it and by the WH who didn't deny the claim because it suited their purpose as well.
>>>Have we been misled, and if so, by whom?
Yes, and the media.
And we're also being mislead by certain conservatives who are p*ssed that Bush has not appointed a conservatvie version of Souter.
Jim, I'm amused by the source. I'm not discounting the article, you understand. I'm just amused by where it's coming from.
FYI, MM is the left wing version of MRC. Large grains of salt advised.
It looks like we mislead ourselves. We heard what we wanted to hear.
I'm am very thankful that Bush is our President and not Gore or Kerry, even if our vote was based on our misunderstanding of Bush's appreciation of Scalia and Thomas as a promise to appoint SCOTUS justices in their mold.
I think it's unfair to prejudge this woman before she has a fair hearing. The kind of vitriolic insults she has suffered in the past two weeks is disgraceful IMO.
PLEASE tell me this is satire, and I missed that fact.
I was at one of the W pre-election rallies, and heard the line:
"I will appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas".
The crowd, of course, went nuts.
But, was he just telling us what we wanted to hear? Was Dubya - gasp! - just another Politician playing to the crowd? (Yup).
This is no "urban myth". He said it at EVERY rally, in EVERY city.
Man, the backpedalling by this administration is sickening. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that "Slick Willy" was back in office..("depends on what you mean by the word 'IS'"). Guess we're now debating.."depends on what you mean by 'in the mold of'".
Or Thomas, right? I think that Scalia himself has said that he probably couldn't get confirmed today. Miers is more like Thomas.
And damn the torpedoes...flank speed ahead to the hearings.
Waiting for the hearings is, IMHO, pointless. Miers will no doubt adopt the Ginsburg strategy, leaving many unanswered questions on her positions.
At the time he was nominated, I said John Roberts is no Antonin Scalia. The same can be said for Harreit Miers. There has been endless speculation as to why PresBush nominated Roberts and Miers. For the most part, Bush`s nominees to the lower courts have been made up of solid conservatives. I don't believe Bush has misled conservatives. That would be a foolish move and Bush isn't a foolish person. It's obvious that the political environment in WashDC and personal circumstances of possible nominees have played a big factor in exactly who Bush was willing to go with. While Bush hasn't been the conservative, that most conservatives wanted, we need to respect his judgement on both Roberts and Miers and hope for the best.
I find it amazing that Media Matters can write so much about so little.
I don't know, Jim, but I do know the Pres said "strict constructionist" was his target. I've heard that more than once and can remember how the president pronounces constructionist.
In any case, even if he did say Scalia, he knows Miers and we don't, so she might well be both a constructionist and a Scalia wannabe.
He didn't promise that we'd be able to prove it to every nitpickin' critic in America prior to the nominee getting to say a word or two in his/her own defense.
You're right. She's smarter than he is. Scalia's major was history. Miers'? Math.