July 20, 2005

July 20, 2005 | Commentary on

Ed Meese on SCOTUS Nomination

HOST: With us now, a man who used to counsel White House personnel on nominees, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese. Thanks for joining us.

ED MEESE: Thank you.

HOST: First off, what's different today, going to be different today about the process regardless of the nominee than you experienced in the 1980's?

MEESE: Well I think in a way, today's type of handling of these type of nominees started in the 1980's with Judge Bork in 1987, where what was expected to be a tough procedure, confirmation hearings, turned into a political contest, by a lot of the left wing special interests, who apparently had connections with the Democrats at that time, who were -- had the leadership of the Senate, and they turned it into sort of a political circus. Now I hope in this case, we'll get back to what has been more traditional, and that is a confirmation hearing that's civilized, which is designed to elicit information and not simply to disparage a very good person.

HOST: Well you know what, Ed, there's going to be a circus, and you know, the opposition has already lined up something like $50 million to do just that. The big question is, at the end of the day, do you think this guy will get the thumbs up from the senate?

MEESE: Oh, absolutely. I think there's no question about that. I think also, I think the Senate has been shamed by some of the antics that have gone on by the Democrats in the court of appeal nominations that have taken place, and that's why the gang of 14 got together, and to try to bring some sense of order back in to it. And I think that that spirit is going to prevail, particularly because you have such an outstanding candidate, that President Bush has nominated.

HOST: Some are saying this was a very smart political move on the part of the president because of John Roberts' relatively short time, two years on the D.C. appeals bench. Not giving the Democrats a lot to work with, a lot of material I guess to try to brass him.

MEESE: Well -- to brass him.

HOST: Well, it shouldn't be that what a person has done, if he's done it correctly as John has, whether it's two years, 10 years, or 20 years, and I think that he has such a good record, he's argued before the supreme court 39 times, he's respected by lawyers on both sides of the aisle, I don't think there's any reason for the Democrats to hold him up. Obviously they should be able to ask him questions if they're proper as to what the philosophy of judging is, things like that. They shouldn't be able to ask, try to pin him down on specific cases and I hope that they won't, although I indicated last night by some of the more left wing Democrats that they would try. but I think the Chairman Specter is going to run good hearings, I hope Pat Leahy will join that kind of spirit and I’m hopeful that this will perhaps restore civility to Washington, which badly needs it.

HOST: Do you know when someone has accumulated between $5 billion and $100 million to fight a nominee, they're going to attack regardless of the candidate, correct?

MEESE: I think so, but I think -- remember, there are two aspects to this. One is the left wing extremists on the one hand, and on the other hand, you have the members of the Senate who have their reputations, which were tattered during the first term of the Bush administration by the way they treated very reputable candidates that they ultimately wound up approving or that the Senate wound up confirming, and so I think maybe they've at least learned some lessons from that hand not to totally cater to these left wing extremists.

HOST: Meanwhile on the left wing of the Democratic Party, the guy who runs the party, Howard Dean, he's suggesting that the reason the president came up with this guy at this point in time was simply to get Karl Rove and that Plame gate story off the front page.

MEESE: Howard Dean is about as credible in this as he is in most things.

HOST: We have to end it there. Former Attorney General for the United States of America, Ed Meese, thanks so much for joining us.

About the Author

Edwin Meese III Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus
Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Interview from Fox News