President Bush: Tone Down Supreme Court Rhetoric

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush: Tone Down Supreme Court Rhetoric

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 5, 2005

Washington, DC ( — President Bush on Monday encouraged groups who have launched attacks already in the first round of the battle over a new Supreme Court justice to tone down their rhetoric. He also defended Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whom pro-life advocates worry may be selected to replace outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

In an interview with USA Today, Bush called on organizations that are already running television ads about a forthcoming pick for the high court to not be so polemic.

"I would hope that the groups involved in this process — the special-interest groups — will help tone down the heated rhetoric and focus on the nominee’s credentials and philosophy," he said.

MoveOn, the liberal grassroots political group that backs abortion, is already running a $250,000 television commercial in a handful of states and using the case of Terri Schiavo to prod Bush into picking a less conservative nominee.

Bush indicated he won’t be affected by the outpouring of lobbying.

"I feel no pressure except the pressure to put somebody on the bench who will bring dignity to the office, somebody who’s got the intellect necessary to do the job, somebody of great integrity and somebody who will faithfully interpret the Constitution," he told USA Today.

The president also defended his top attorney, who has been under fire from pro-life groups as a potential Supreme Court nominee, because of his decisions against parental notification while he served on the Texas Supreme Court.

"Al Gonzales is a great friend of mine," Bush said in a phone interview. "When a friend gets attacked, I don’t like it."

Bush told USA Today he is considering "a good-sized" number of prospects to replace O’Connor, who favor Roe v. Wade and partial-birth abortions while on the court.

"I will begin to hone in on a handful of candidates over the course of the next few weeks," he said. He told the national newspaper he would interview candidates himself before making a final selection.

USA Today inquired of the president whether he would appoint a judge to the nation’s top court who would overturn the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. "As I have repeatedly said, I do not believe in a litmus test for my judges," he said.

Though he hasn’t had a chance to select a Supreme Court nominee, the president has repeatedly said he would appoint someone in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Both are pro-life and have voted in the past to overturn Roe.

The president has also compiled a strong record of making virtually all of his federal court appointments either pro-life advocates or judges who respect the rule of law and will uphold pro-life legislation.

Asked about nominating a woman or a minority, Bush said his short list includes "a diverse group of citizens."