Tuesday, July 12, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: Senators Meet with Bush

This morning, President Bush met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Minority Leader Harry Reid, and the chair and ranking Dem on the Judiciary Committee (Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy) over breakfast to discuss the Supreme Court nomination process. After the event, the senators had a brief discussion with reporters. Bench Memos has the remarks of Specter and Leahy (at least I think they're Leahy's, although it's titled Reid).*

Some good comments. From Specter: "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."

From Leahy: "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."

As I've said before, I think these consultative steps, and others that have been taken so far by the White House, are good. I hope they continue.

*Update, and note. I don't mean to leave the impression that I subscribe to any of Bench Memos' editorial comments to the Specter text. I do not. I think Specter's comments are good, decent ones. -- 9:59 a.m.

[Update: From ABC's The Note: "The agenda item Sen. Specter highlighted from the White House breakfast meeting this morning, which he attributed to himself: Specter suggested the President look for the nominee outside the traditional circuit court mold.

Ranking member Leahy appeared to concur.

Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) made it clear in the White House driveway this morning that the President didn't provide any names of possible nominees to the Senators. However, Reid went on to say that lots of names were thrown around and that they (the Senators and the President) had a deal not to discuss those names publicly.

ABC News Karen Travers reports that Scott McClellan, in this morning's gaggle, referred to the President in "listening mode" at the breakfast. No word yet on whether the early McClellan briefing resembled yesterday's in any way, shape, or form. -- 10:20 a.m.]


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