Politics & Policy

Doing Rudy Justice

Judging qualifications.

To some extent, America knows Rudy Giuliani. They know him as “America’s Mayor,” the man who engineered the greatest urban Renaissance of my lifetime and who stood as a pillar of strength when our nation needed him most. But there is more to Rudy — much more to the man I have had the privilege to know since we first worked together in the Reagan Justice Department.

Rudy’s time as associate attorney general — the number-three position at Justice — does not get the type of coverage that some of his later endeavors do. But much of my conviction that Rudy is the man best equipped to lead America forward these next four years stems from what I learned both from and about him back then. So allow me to share.

It’s tough to overstate the level of responsibility that Rudy was tasked with at Justice. The Justice Department is a massive undertaking, and few, if any, positions entail the breadth of oversight responsibilities as associate attorney general. The FBI, DEA, the Bureau of Prisons, every single U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal — this is just a sampling of the divisions that fell to Rudy to oversee. And he did. Rudy earned a reputation as one of the most visionary, effective, charismatic and inspirational leaders we had.

Candidates for president talk about the ways in which their experience uniquely qualifies them to lead us in the future. But we would do well to remember that the presidency is an executive office. Rudy Giuliani, whose time as mayor is among the preeminent illustrations of executive excellence our nation has ever seen, has been developing the necessary skills for almost 30 years — beginning with his time as a key player in the Reagan administration.

We also hear much these days about the type of judges a president would appoint — rightly so, as few things a president does have as lasting an effect as appointments to the federal courts. There is not a candidate, Republican or Democrat, who has close to the experience of Rudy Giuliani in this arena.

As part of the senior leadership at Justice, I met with Rudy and a small group of others every morning of every working day, a group that worked together on various different projects at various different times. One of the most important responsibilities discharged by Justice Department leadership was to recommend outstanding lawyers to President Reagan for appointment to judicial positions, including the Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeal, and the federal district courts. That process included a concentration on the character and integrity of those we wanted to appoint — people who would respect the Constitution, the laws passed by Congress, and the limited role of judges. I know Rudy Giuliani will appoint judges who share this judicial philosophy — not just because we’ve had conversations about it, although we have, but because I’ve seen him actually address those issues and approach that task in person, with outstanding results.

The ability of our next president to keep the American people safe and secure is at the top of every list of presidential qualifications. Rudy Giuliani was a key figure in the Reagan administration’s anti-terrorism efforts. Responsible for supervision of the DOJ’s involvement in an interdepartmental group on terrorism, Rudy perceived that our laws, some seriously out-of-date, did not adequately equip us to deal with the threat of terrorism and he devised and advocated changes in those laws to modernize our legal resources and capabilities. He also played a central role in shaping the criminal policy of the Reagan administration, in charge of the U.S. attorney’s offices, the Drug Enforcement administration, the DOJ’s Criminal Division, and the U.S. marshals. The breadth of Rudy Giuliani’s experience in the arenas of justice and security is simply unmatched by any presidential candidate running today.

Rudy has been an inspirational leader since the first day I’ve known him. His intelligence, energy, creativity, and vision enabled him successfully to manage the massive responsibilities that come with being associate attorney general. Those are the qualities that defined his time in the Reagan Justice Department. They defined his time as U.S. attorney. They defined his time as mayor of New York. They will define his time in the White House. And that’s precisely why I support him for president of the United States.

— Theodore B. Olson, former solicitor general of the United States, is the Chairman of Rudy Giuliani’s Justice Advisory Committee.


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