Sunday, July 03, 2005

Meet the Press: SCOTUS Talking Points Emerge

Senators Specter and Leahy discussed the upcoming Supreme Court nomination process with Andrea Mitchell on "Meet the Press" today, and I noticed some talking points quickly making themselves evident. Senator Leahy repeatedly noted that the next justice is supposed to represent "all 280 million Americans ... not just for the Republicans or just for the Democrats," and several times urged the president to pick a justice "who will unite the country." Leahy said that he is looking forward to consultations with the president next week and as the process moves forward.

Both Specter and Leahy repeatedly urged that the rhetoric from interest groups on both the right and the left "be toned down," "take it easy," "calm down," "stand back" and wait to see who the president picks. Senator Leahy made the excellent point that if Justice O'Connor were nominated today, the far right and the far left would probably both be screaming about her, "but we can all agree she's been a darn good justice."

Specter called the interest group campaigns "counterproductive, and sometimes insulting," saying the groups "ought to have some respect for the president. There will be time enough to criticize after a president has made a move."

Asked about criteria by which he would evaluate judges, Senator Specter said that he would not ask nominees about positions on specific issues (i.e. abortion), but that he would, for example, ask the nominee's opinion about their position on 'stare decisis,' (i.e. would they overturn Roe).

Watch to see if the Leahy talking point (about the new justice being for all Americans, not just the right or the left) is also used by other Dems on the shows this morning. My guess is that we'll be hearing that formulation quite a bit in the upcoming days and weeks. And stay tuned for a bit more Specter crankiness about the lobbying efforts from the groups on both sides.

I'll have more on the second segment of "MTP" later on; for now, suffice it to say that Chuck Hagel kept up his strong criticisms of the Administration's policies in Iraq, and dared anybody to challenge his credibility on the issue. It was a good, fiesty interview.


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