Category Archives: Congress

Bush on ‘the power of judges’

Here, on the First Monday in October, is the text of a speech delivered today by President George W. Bush at a Federalist Society event in Cincinnati:

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I am pleased to address supporters of the Ashbrook Center, which has become a premier institution for American civics and history. 

My subject today is of paramount importance to our entire Nation: the proper role of federal judges.  Few issues are more hotly debated or have a more lasting impact on our country.  Today I will share my views on the proper role of the courts, the kind of judges I have nominated, and the urgent need to reform the way we treat judicial nominees in the United States Senate. 

Before Oliver Wendell Holmes took his seat on the Supreme Court, he met a supporter who wished him well in his new duties.  The supporter expressed satisfaction that Holmes would be going to Washington to administer justice.  Holmes replied: “Don’t be too sure. I am going there to administer the law.”  Holmes was trying to make clear what he believed was the proper role of judges:  to apply the laws as written, and not to advance their own agendas.  He knew that it was up to elected officials, and not appointed judges, to represent the popular will. 

Our Founders gave the judicial branch enormous power.  It is the only branch of government whose officers are unelected.  That means judges on the federal bench must exercise their power prudently … cautiously … you might even say, conservatively.  And that means that the selection and confirmation of good judges should be a high priority for every American.

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Filed under Congress, The Legal Profession

Ted Stevens: North to Alaska

Indicted Sen. Ted Stevens is trying to move the site of his upcoming corruption trial from Washington, D.C. to (surprise!) Alaska in order to procure the potential of some home-field advantage.

The Justice Department isn’t keen on the idea, considering that almost everything it needs for a successful prosecution is here in the District. In the government’s opposition to Stevens’ motion for a change of venue, filed Monday, DOJ lawyers write:

If this case is transferred to the District of Alaska, the following must travel to Alaska for
trial: the Judge and his staff, the defendant, defense counsel, much of the evidence, the witnesses from Washington, D.C., and the witnesses from other jurisdictions. If the case remains in the District of Columbia, where the crimes took place and the indictment was properly returned, the government’s witnesses from Alaska and other states must travel, at no expense to themselves. Accordingly, Stevens’ motion should be denied.

Even more interesting, the government is protesting a move to Alaska, because Stevens, who is up for reelection, is using the charges against him as a campaign issue.

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Filed under Congress, Gunslingers, Public Corruption

Leahy, Specter press FBI for answers on reporter phone records

The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), sent the following letter Monday to FBI Director Robert Mueller:

Dear Director Mueller:

We were disappointed to learn that, in 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misused so-called “exigent letters” to obtain the telephone records of reporters working in the Jakarta, Indonesia, bureaus of The Washington Post and The New York Times.  While we commend you for personally apologizing to the newspapers on behalf of the FBI, and for personally bringing this matter to the Committee’s attention, we expect to receive a more complete accounting of this violation of the Justice Department’s guidelines intended to protect privacy and journalists’ First Amendment rights.

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Filed under Congress, Justice Department, War on Terror