Even so, the press folks are finally starting to pick up on the theme that activist judging is in the eye of the beholder. When asked directly as to whether Miers would work to overturn Roe v. Wade, Scotty tossed us the old tired bone about "no litmus tests." But, really, Roe v. Wade is law and if you have someone who is dedicated to defending the constitution and has a "deep commitment" to the law, then you would expect her to follow prior court decisions, no?
Here's a brief snip of the banter back and forth in today's whitewashinghouse press briefing:
Q Why did the President feel it's necessary to invite these former justices, or sitting justices, to the White House to talk about Harriet Miers? Is he trying to change the debate from the religious preoccupation, which was much discussed here last week?I love Helen Thomas, but I think I have said that before. The quest to place their brand of "activist" judge in the SCOTUS continues...
MR. McCLELLAN: Much discussed where last week?
Q Here in this room.
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, in this room we've been discussing her qualifications and her experience --
Q Well, you have. Some of us --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and her judicial temperament. So that's what we've always been discussing here at the White House, and that's what we will continue to highlight. These are former justices of the highest court in Texas who --
Q So why did you bring them here?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- know Harriet Miers very well. Harriet Miers is not someone who has sought the limelight, and the American people are just coming to know her. And these are people who are highly respected in the legal community. They know what it takes to serve on our nation's highest court, and they are people who know Harriet Miers well. And as you heard from Chief Justice -- former Chief Justice Hill, he said that she is a brilliant lawyer, and she is someone well-versed on constitutional law. And they also talked about how she is fair and open-minded. And so they are people that know her well and know that she'll make an outstanding Supreme Court justice. She's going through the confirmation process, and we want the American people to get to know Harriet Miers like the President knows her.
Q Isn't it a little unusual to bring them here to the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: This is for a vacancy on the highest court in our land, and this is an important vacancy. The President has chosen someone who has a distinguished legal career and a strong record of accomplishment. She is someone who is well-respected within the legal community, and well-respected by those who know her well. And that's part of the confirmation process, is talking to the American people about who she is. And she looks forward to continuing to talk to members of the Senate and talk to them about her qualifications and her experience and her judicial philosophy. That's what this should be about, and that's what we're continuing to highlight. Helen, go ahead.
Q The President doesn't want anyone who would legislate from the bench. Can you define that a little bit more? For example, is Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas -- was that legislating? Was Miranda legislating? Was the right to a lawyer legislating from the bench?
MR. McCLELLAN: These are great questions. I'm not the one who's going through the confirmation process. These are questions that will come up in the confirmation hearing process, I imagine. I'm sure the --
Q But I want to know what you are saying. You keep saying --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure that members of the Senate --
Q -- you can't legislate from the bench. Would all of those rulings been wrong under your --
MR. McCLELLAN: And what we mean by it is that she is someone who will strictly interpret our Constitution and our laws, that will not try to make law from the bench. That's what the President means by it. And that means that she is someone who will look at the facts of a case and apply the law, what the law says, and that's what the American people expect in a Supreme Court justice. And that's what the President has always looked for. He's nominated more than 200 people to the bench. And Harriet Miers has been very involved --
Q Is Roe versus Wade the law --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- has been very involved in that process. Now, in terms of cases that could come before the Court, I don't think anyone has an expectation that a future judge should answer a question about a case that could come before that Court. A judge should be fair and open-minded and look at the facts of a case and then apply the law. What you heard from these Supreme Court justices just now was that Harriet Miers is someone who is very fair-minded, and she is someone who will look at the facts and apply the law. And these are all questions about legal issues that she will be answering.
Q But you bring them up. I mean, you --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right. And she looks forward to --
Q -- keep talking about legislating from the bench. Does that mean that nothing changes in 200 years?
MR. McCLELLAN: Of course not, Helen. She will be talking about these issues when she goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions. And she looks forward to answering their questions, and we look forward to the American people seeing her before the Judiciary Committee, where she will have an opportunity to discuss these issues and more.
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