Bench Memos

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What Chairman Specter Said


As released by the RNC:

SPECTER: We’re following the Constitution, which is always a good start — advice and consent. [Someone doesn't read NRO...or the Constitution.] And I think this morning was very productive with the advice part, with the president inviting us in very, very promptly to talk about the entire process.

The scheduling is a matter which we took up in some detail. And Senator Leahy and I have worked very coordinately and we intend to continue that.

I’m flexible. There are some limitations as to August. But as Senator Frist has said, our duty is to have a justice in place by the first Monday in October, when the court starts its new term. And the ending point is that date, and the beginning point is when the president makes the selection.

We want to see to it that we don’t have somebody so-called hanging out there too long.

I think that the word ought to go out that the special interest groups vastly overstate their influence; that what they’re doing is counterproductive and a lot of the times insulting as they gear up these big money-wasting apparatuses.

When we go back to the 1987 — and we hear about that all the time, the Judge Bork proceedings — the interest groups did not defeat Judge Bork — just didn’t happen. It was his judicial philosophy. So that the extent we can turn that off, the whole process is much, much better off.

Characteristically, the hearings start in September. We’re going to be consulting really with the leader, Senator Frist, as to whether we want to pursue August. I think that it’s difficult, but it’s possible. And we’re retaining some flexibility on that subject.

One other topic which came up which I think is worthy of mention and doesn’t reveal too much, and that is the sense — and I’ll attribute this to myself, as a starter — to look for somebody as a nominee that does not come out of the traditional circuit courts; that we have, if not a monolithic approach, very, very close to that, with now Justice O’Connor having been in the state legislature, and the chief justice having been in the Justice Department, and everybody else is from the circuit courts, that it would be good to have some diversity.

SPECTER: As one commentator mentioned, Brown v. Board was decided by a court which pulled the country together, and had three ex-senators on it; might even had four senators on it. Four of us here today; who could tell about something like that?

But that was one item which the president listened. The president, of course, speaks for himself, but it was a good meeting and, as already indicated, a good start.


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