RUSH: We are always honored and happy to have with us the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Mr. Vice President, welcome back, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, Rush. How is everything goin’?
RUSH: It couldn’t be better, thank you Give us your perspective on Judge Roberts before we get into more detailed questioning. What…? You know him personally? How long have you known him? What can you tell us about him that we may not know as of this point?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I know of him. I can’t say we are personal friends or anything like that. I have been aware of his work in the past and of course the search that the president had us do, prior to making the nomination that he made last night, we looked at an awful lot of judicial talent over a long period of time, and he stands out as one of the absolute best. He was on the very, very short list and the president, after very careful consideration and a long interview and so forth, decided he wanted to go with Judge Roberts — and I think he is a great pick. He has a good, solid philosophy. He’s got a distinguished career. This is guy whose credentials, by anyone’s standards, are absolutely impeccable. So I think he’d be a great choice.
RUSH: Are you at all concerned? As I’ve listened to some of the reaction, predictable reaction, today from critics saying — and particularly Senator Kennedy say, “Well, we need to know on whose side is he? Is he on the side of the polluters or is he on the side of big government? Is he on the side of big corporate interest?” It seems to me that the opponents of Judge Roberts increasingly look at the court as a political instrument to be used at their own ends. Does it trouble you that enough, or a lot of Americans seem to look at the court as the ultimate, final orbiter in political matters in this country?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it is important. One of the things I like, frankly, about Judge Roberts is that he clearly understands the role of the courts in our society and that there is a political realm where the Congress gets involved, and the legislative and executive branch and role of the courts is different. I obviously disagree with Senator Kennedy’s views with respect to Judge Roberts. He’s one of only three senators that voted against him in the judiciary committee when he was confirmed for his current slot on the DC Circuit.
I didn’t feel like he had a very good argument then, and I don’t think he does now. If you are looking for somebody who’s got the qualities and integrity and judgment and intellect that you would like to see and somebody is going sit down and address those basic, fundamental issues that do come before the court from time to time, you would be hard put to find anybody more qualified than Judge Roberts.
You know, the kind of comments that I’ve seen some on the other side make, it’s almost as if they went to some focus group and tested out a bunch of lines and now they’re all using the same lines. But it’s not informed debate, I don’t believe.
RUSH: What kind of questions do you all ask of all of the people that you have on your list when you’re interviewing?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we are interested, obviously, in those things that tell us something about the individual, in terms of their own personal life experiences: Where they are from, how they look at the world, how they got to where they are. Those you do sort of in any interview for virtually any position. With respect to something like the Supreme Court, the process we went through was, obviously, to look at their own legal experiences. Judge Roberts of course, that includes presenting 39 arguments, arguing 39 cases before the Supreme Court which is – he’s one of the most active appellate lawyers in the country, and, that was important.
But also how he perceives the role of the court, the role of a judge in terms of the extent of which he thinks the decisions need to be made to address specific issues that are presented in a particular case versus laying out broader lines of arguments, how he views the role of stare decisis, the importance of prior decisions by the court, the relationship between the Supreme Court the appellate courts — which the appellate courts are in a position where they basically are expected to rule consistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court, they get to set precedents.
RUSH: That is going be one of the areas, I think, that he is hit on. He has had a position on the bull’s-eye issue, Roe vs Wade, as an appellate judge. But, the appellate judge has to go — vertically by stare decisis, has to — Supreme Court the law of the land. But when he gets the Supreme Court, he’s free to rule as he wishes. You ask him on both sides of the stare decisis, both as appellate judge and a potential Supreme Court judge?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you ask him — we don’t get into questioning about specific cases obviously. You don’t want to be – and we’re not – in a position about asking him questions about how, specifically, he might rule in a particular case or how he might think about that. But you’re interested in things such as legislative intent. How do you determine legislative intent?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: How does he as it as a justice interpret statutes? Does he look just at statutory language itself? Does he look at the legislative history? Those kinds of issues are important in terms of trying to assess whether or not a justice is a — as we layman argue – a strict constructionalist, somebody who believes the role the court is to interpret the Constitution and apply the Constitution versus somebody sees with more activist role for the court where they’re in fact legislating from the bench.
RUSH: Tell me about the consultation process. I heard the president contacted personally and spoke with over 70 members of the Senate. How many of those were Democrats? How did that consultation process go and were any names run by these people?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we did an extensive consultation process, Rush. The president himself met especially with the leadership as well as with… Oh, for example, Senators Specter and Leahy — chairman and raking member on the judiciary committee — and a number of other senators. We also set up a process where several members of the president’s staff were involved, especially his council, in terms of seeking the advice of individual members of the Senate. Altogether I’d say we probably consulted with 65 or 70 senators, both parties, probably about two-thirds of the Democrats were asked for their views. We did not get into the business of giving them a list of names.
We felt that went beyond the point of consultation. The president is the one who has to make the decisions about who he wants to nominate in the Senate, obviously, has to confirm but we seek their recommendations if they had names they wanted us to look at. We talked about what kind of issues they thought ought to be considered, what the criteria ought to be in terms of filling the post. So there was, I would say, probably more consolation than — at least in my experience, than — I’ve ever before seen on a Supreme Court nomination.
RUSH: At the end of the day — and I know this is calling for a political opinion, but — do you think at the end of the day, the Democrats that were consulted will feel that they were genuinely consulted?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I know a number of them already have said as much. Senator Byrd, for example, from West Virginia, who was very complimentary in the extent which the president really went out of his way to talk to him, consult him, seek his advice and counsel. So I think that there are a great many Democrats that believe that there was consultation above and beyond anything they expected — and I frankly believe that Judge Roberts will have a large number of Democrats in the final analysis who will vote for him. He was, after all, approved unanimously for his current seat.
RUSH: Just a couple of more quick questions. What steps do you plan on taking to prepare Judge Roberts for the hearings? We’ve heard that Fred Thompson has been consulted for his advice on this. What will happen there?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the normal process for one of these is you get sort of a, sort of a sherpa, a senior figure who knows the Senate well, who could sort of honcho the process for us, and Fred Thompson has agreed to do that, of course, a distinguished former senator from Tennessee currently best known for his role on Law and Order.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But he is very good man, knows the Senate well — and Ed Gillespie will also help, former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
RUSH: What will they do with the Senate? What will they do with the nominee?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s a matter of working with the nominee, getting him around to visit all of the members — especially of the judiciary committee but eventually as many of the members of Senate as possible.
RUSH: Will you have mock hearings?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They may. Although again, if you look at Judge Roberts, this man has stood before the Supreme Court, those nine justices, and answered all kinds of tough questions on 39 separate occasions. I can’t think of better preparation than what he has already been through as one of the leading appellate lawyers in the nation. I think, I know, from my own experiences in the conversations that we had with him, this man will be great witness.
RUSH: Okay. How did you keep it secret yesterday?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckles) Heh, heh, heh.
RUSH: Everybody loves the fact that you were able to do this. How did you do it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the president likes that, and there was a small group that had been working on the possibility of the Supreme Court replacement for a good long time. When Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement was announced then, of course, we kicked into high gear. But it’s been on a very close-hold basis. That’s the way the president wanted it done — and
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — everybody we dealt with respected our wishes, and it was just a little extra, added pleasure in being able to pull it off.
RUSH: It was an interesting night last night to watch the media demand leaks.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was.
RUSH: (laughter) Mr. Vice President, next week — for a portion of next week — I’m going to be in France.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mmmmn?
RUSH: Is there anybody you would like to me to say hi to, or anything you would like me to say to anybody in France for you?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well (pauses). I think that their relationship is somewhat improved. They have been working closely with us on a lot of the counter-terrorism things that we are dealing with on a global basis. Obviously, we’ve had some differences with President Chirac, but over the long haul, the relationship we have — for example with French intelligence services — is very good, and we need to continue to work very closely together if we are going to win the war on terror.
RUSH: All right. Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, and it is always nice to have you with us.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, Rush. Have a good time in France. (laughter).
RUSH: You — (Laughter)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughter)
RUSH: Vice President Dick Cheney.