More from the outside-the-White House briefing:
LEAHY: If I could just follow up on that, Arlen, I remember having a conversation with President Reagan when he was asking some of us what we thought about the Supreme Court; a similar one with President Clinton. In both cases, I said, Consider somebody outside the judicial monastery.
I’ve talked, as each of us has, with a number of the current justices. I know they see a number of benefits that could come to having somebody from outside the judicial monastery. President Clinton actually offered it to somebody who was not a judge, and that person decided not to accept it. And that’s one consideration, and we discussed that thoroughly.
I see this meeting as a first step in the consulting. I think we can have, and the president can certainly nominate somebody, who would unite us and not divide us, somebody who would go through with a vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats voting for him or her.
That would be a great thing to do for the integrity of the court, for the comfort level of the country, because, after all, the court is there for every one of 280 million Americans; it’s not there for any special interest group for the right or the left. And that, I would hope, could be done.
This is an important decision and it may be one of the first of many on this court. I would hope that when we would go, first, with a touchstone that the Supreme Court is there to protect the rights of all Americans. It’s the ultimate check and balance. And then let’s seek somebody — let’s seek somebody that would unite us, all of us, in the Senate first and foremost, but then in the American public, in such a selection.
I think that it can be done. I hope that it will be done.