CBS This Morning hosts on Thursday were very worried about the impact of Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court, fretting that abortion rights are “doomed” with the vacancy being the “final nail in the coffin.”
Co-host Gayle King forgot to use the pretense of “some say” and instead asked the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo: “But should we be worried about Roe v. Wade going away?” Speaking of Trump, she added: “He did say in a debate that he wanted to pick someone who would eliminate Roe v. Wade, which is why people are a little nervous. Some people are a little nervous about it.”
Fellow co-host Norah O’Donnell had to correct her, reminding: “And some conservatives are happy about it.” Leo shot back by explaining that conservatives care about more than just one issue:
For those who have been in the business a long time, it’s not about overturning particular cases. It’s really about making sure you get the Constitution right. You go wherefore the words take you.
Earlier in the show, O’Donnell talked to CBS Supreme Court analyst Jan Crawford and echoed the worry of journalists: “President Trump is going to have the conservative Supreme Court that Republicans have dreamed of for a lifetime. Does that mean that Roe vs. Wade, which grants abortion, is doomed?”
A transcript is below.
CBS This Morning
NORAH O’DONNELL: President Trump is going to have the conservative Supreme Court that Republicans have dreamed of for a lifetime. Does that mean that Roe vs. Wade, which grants abortion, is doomed?
GAYLE KING: Leonard Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society. That’s a group of conservative lawyers who want judges to interpret the law as it was written. He advises President Trump on judicial nominations and spoke to the President yesterday following the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s requirement. Hello, Leonard Leo. Good to see you.
LEONARD LEO: Good morning. Good morning.
KING: Do you want to share what you spoke with the President about yesterday? What did you talk about?
LEO: Well, the president mainly talked about the great meeting he had with Justice Kennedy and how gracious the justice was and how much the President respects the many years of service that Justice Kennedy had.
KING: Can you share with us how this list came about and how you decide who should make the list?
LEO: Well, the list was the President’s idea. He actually called and asked to meet and suggested the idea of doing a list. It was a novel idea. I told him no one had ever done it before, but it was an interesting idea because it would tell people where the president stood on the issue of judicial selection. So, he went ahead and decided to do the list.
KING: What did he say he was he looking for?
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LEO: Well, he was looking for three things. One, extraordinarily well qualified. Two, people who are, in his words, not weak and people who are going to interpret the Constitution the way the framers meant to it be, which is the way he put it. Which I thought was an interesting way to do it.
O’DONNELL: You’re being humble Leonard. But you have really been credited along with the Federal Society with being involved in the picks of the last three Supreme Court justices. Roberts, the chief, Alito and Gorsuch. Would you say that’s true?
LEO: Well, Presidents always make these choices. But there’s been no question there’s been a long standing movement in the United States to appoint judges to the court who are going to interpret the law as written and I’m a part on that certainly.
O’DONNELL: Three conservatives on the Court. Let me read this about you. This has been said about you. Quote: “No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo.” Do you believe with this pick, replacing Kennedy, could finally be the nail in the coffin of abortion rights?
LEO: Roe v. Wade has been a scare tactic that’s gone 36 years. All the way back to Sandra O’Connor’s nomination to the Court. And nothing has happened to Roe in that period of time. For me it’s not about Roe V. Wade. For constitutional conservatives, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about interpreting the Constitution as it’s written. And basically interpreting the limits on government power because that’s really the way to preserve human dignity in our country.
KING: I hear you. But should we be worried about Roe v. Wade going away?
LEO: I don’t think people should be worried about Roe v. Wade or any other particular case. I think they should be worried about having judges who are really going to interpret the law as written and understand the culture and political process and make decisions in our society.
O’DONNELL: But were you upset that Justice Kennedy, a Republican, had sided with liberal members when it came to abortion rights?
LEO: I was personally disappointed with that. But the fact of the matter is justice Kennedy has been a very important conservative member of the court on many key issues. ObamaCare, gun rights, Citizens United. In many of those instances I think he understood the Constitution needed to be interpreted as written. So, he parted company with conservatives on a few key areas. But he understand the importance of the Constitution and the way it’s written.
KING: But he did say in a debate that he wanted to pick someone who would eliminate Roe v. Wade, which is why people are a little nervous. Some people are a little nervous about it.
O’DONNELL: And some conservatives are happy about it.
LEO: For those of us. —
KING: Yes. Yes.
LEO: For those who have been in the business a long time, it’s not about overturning particular cases. It’s really about making sure you get the Constitution right. You go wherefore the words take you.
KING: Is there a leading contender for you?
LEO: No there’s not. There’s not.
LEO: The list is really good.
KING: They’re not in order? You’re just saying anyone?
LEO: No, no, you can throw a dart at that list and in my view, you’d be fine.
O’DONNELL: Leonard, I hope you will come back. We appreciate you being here.
LifeNews.com Note: Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing writer to NewsBusters, its blog where this item first appeared. Scott’s blogs have been featured in the “Inside Politics” section of the Washington Times and linked to on the Drudge Report. He is a graduate of George Mason University. This originally appeared at Newsbusters.