Tag Archives: federalist society

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:


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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