FNC FOX News Sunday - Transcript
Sunday, July 17, 2005
GUEST HOST BRIT HUME: From the Democrat side, we turn now to Senator Mary Landrieu (search) of Louisiana, a member of what has come to be called the "Gang of 14." Good morning, Senator.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA.: Good morning, Brit.
HUME: Nice to have you. Thanks for coming in.
LANDRIEU: Good morning.
HUME: I should note that the "Gang of 14," by the way, are the 14 Democrats and Republicans, seven from each side, who put together the compromise that allowed those justices to be confirmed during the last fight.
Let's get, if I can with you, Senator, to the question of a filibuster (search). Let's assume, just for the sake of discussion, that the three judges that were part of that agreement, who have now been confirmed -- Janice Rogers Brown and the other two, who were quite controversial -- one of them were to be nominated to the Supreme Court.
Now, Senator Graham, Lindsey Graham, who's part of the group on this compromise, said, "We now know what extraordinary circumstances meriting a filibuster are not, and they are not any of these three judges."
What's your view of that?
LANDRIEU: Well, I'm not going to speculate on this program any names, because, of course, the president is going to provide to the Senate his thoughts about who should be on the court.
But what I can say, Brit, about the "Gang of 14" is that we are very proud of our work to keep the Senate working, to keep the Senate from shutting down, to keep a civil dialogue on this subject. And we have, I think, accomplished that.
Now, we don't hold ourselves out to be in the substitute of the Judiciary Committee, either the leader, as Arlen Specter, a great leader on the Republican side, Pat Leahy.
But we have really encouraged the president to consult with all members of the Senate...
HUME: Do you think he's doing that, by the way?
LANDRIEU: I think he is doing -- yes, he is doing that. The question is the sincerity of the consultation. And you'll only know that -- the proof is in the pudding, as we would say at home. So we'll have to see.
But let me just say this, the president...
HUME: When you say the proof is in the pudding, what's the pudding?
LANDRIEU: Well, the pudding will be the nominee itself, if it's someone that can get an overwhelming vote in the Senate.
HUME: Why does it need to be someone who can get an overwhelming vote?
LANDRIEU: Well, seven out of the nine justices that currently serve have gotten more than 85 votes. And out of the 109 justices that have served, many of them have been nominated with Republican -- or approved with Republican and Democratic support.
And let me say why I think that's important, if I could. The reason I think that it's important is because this country is really divided right now on the war. We're prosecuting a war in Iraq. We're protecting ourselves against terrorism.
The president, as the leader, should, I think, have an overwhelming feeling to appoint someone that the Senate can agree on to keep the country together, fighting these battles. That's what the 14 of us hope.
HUME: Let me ask you about whether you think Sandra Day O'Connor should be succeeded by another woman.
LANDRIEU: I think it would be a great idea. Laura Bush made that suggestion, and I would think that that would be terrific.
There've only been two women out of 109 people who have ever served in the court, and only two African-Americans that have ever served out of 109. So for a country that prides itself on diversity and recognizes diversity as a strength, not as a weakness, I think it would be terrific.
Now, there are many able women out there, and the great success of some of the rulings of the court have enabled half the law schools to be made up of women. The graduating classes are now 50 percent.
HUME: Anybody you think would be especially well-qualified?
LANDRIEU: I don't have a nominee, but I can tell you there are dozens of outstanding women who have legal credentials and the kind of integrity and character that Arlen Specter...
HUME: Do you think a woman would guarantee the kind of overwhelming support you're talking about?
LANDRIEU: Not necessarily. I mean, it would depend on what woman.
So, again, I just throw that out to say to that the American people, who are really a very fair people, when they think about 109 justices, they think, "My goodness, we should have more than just two women or two African-Americans," and we've never had a Hispanic or Latino judge.
HUME: Let's suggest for a moment -- you don't want to talk about names, so let's not. But let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that the president nominates, as I think he can probably be expected to, someone who is a strong judicial conservative, someone whose views on the role of the supreme court and the law are clearly at variance with the liberal members of this court, no doubt about it.
Would that constitute extraordinary circumstances of the kind where you could support a filibuster?
LANDRIEU: Well, let me say that the group of 14 probably, and I most certainly, expect the president to nominate someone that has more conservative views. I mean, he is in some areas more conservative. We don't think that is necessarily extraordinary.
But if you want to write the law, you should run for the Senate or run for your local legislature or become a governor that, you know, promotes laws in the states. But if you want to interpret the law and interpret the Constitution, then that is the kind of person we're looking for for the court.
And let me say again, I think people have just an innate sense of fairness. They look to the Supreme Court as the final place where justice can be given. And when it's not, it's very disappointing and very disconcerting to this democracy.
So we want a person that people have confidence in -- conservatives, moderates and liberals -- that can make good decisions and not try to write the law, but try to interpret the law and the Constitution in some sort of not so aggressive a fashion.
HUME: If a nominee to the court, by his or her answers to questions, convinced you that, given the chance, this nominee would vote to either restrict or reverse Roe v. Wade, would that constitute a basis for a filibuster in your eyes?
LANDRIEU: Let me answer the question this way: Most Americans, including myself, would like to see abortions reduced in this country. And most Americans, including myself, understand there needs to be restrictions on a practice that many people find immoral.
But having said that, Brit, I don't think the American people want to criminalize abortion. I don't think they want to put women in jail. I don't think they want to, you know, levy serious fines. And I don't think they want to get that involved with people's personal lives.
So we're looking for a balance in that area, where people can make choices early in pregnancies, have some limitations, some restrictions. And I think that this court has a great responsibility to help this nation come to a settlement, if you will, on that issue.
HUME: Well, if Roe v. Wade were reversed, of course, that wouldn't make abortion a crime anywhere. That would leave it up to the political process to decide on a state-by-state basis. Are you averse to that?
LANDRIEU: That is correct; you are correct in your analysis. But what the Supreme Court decision does say right now is to lay out some parameters in which the states can operate.
But, you know, there are some people in this country that want to criminalize abortion in every and all circumstance, and there is a loud and vocal minority. But the majority of people want restrictions.
So I think that that's a legitimate question to nominees, but it's not the only thing that's going to, you know, decide -- the only issue that's going to make us decide on the appropriateness of a nominee.
HUME: So you wouldn't filibuster over what you thought would be likely restrictions, but you filibuster over someone you thought was going to reverse?
LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I'm part of the "Gang of 14" to not filibuster at all...
HUME: I understand.
LANDRIEU: ... because we want to have a judge that can get a great majority of the Senate. And we think that we can do that by urging the president to unite, not to divide, the country.
So I'm not going to say what I would filibuster on or not. I'm part of the group that doesn't want to filibuster, that wants to encourage a nominee that can get broad consensus, like the seven of the nine that are currently serving. I hope we can.
HUME: Senator Landrieu, it's a pleasure to have you. Thanks for coming.
LANDRIEU: Thank you, Brit. Thank you.