TV & Radio
Bush denounces court wars, rules out 'litmus test'
By Steve Holland
Wednesday July 6, 2005 - Reuters
President Bush on Wednesday said he will not choose his Supreme Court candidate based on their position on specific issues such as abortion or gay marriage.
"I'll pick people who ... will strictly interpret the constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," he said.
Under pressure from opposing activists to pick someone who would either uphold abortion or work to outlaw it, and legalize or outlaw gay marriage, Bush ruled out any such "litmus test" in making his choice.
"There will be no litmus test," he said, repeating his position during his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns.
Bush also called on activists of the left and right to lower the tone over whom he should pick in his first nomination to the nine-judge court, an appointment which is for an unlimited term.
Bush urged U.S. senators, who must confirm his choice, not to listen to special interest groups "on the extremes" whom he accused of exploiting the court battle to advance their causes and raise money.
"This is an opportunity for good public servants to exhibit a civil discourse on a very important matter and not let these groups ... dictate the rhetoric, the tone," said Bush, who was celebrating his 59th birthday.
At a joint news conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bush also defended his attorney general, fellow Texan Alberto Gonzales, against criticism from conservatives that he is too moderate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Conservatives have mounted a campaign against Gonzales, a former White House counsel and long-time Bush aide who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Gonzales is among a handful of advisers on the Supreme Court choice, but it was unclear whether he is among the more than half a dozen candidates Bush is considering for the job.
"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized," Bush said when asked to respond to the attacks on Gonzales.
"I'm loyal to my friends. And all of a sudden this fellow who is a good public servant and a really fine person is under fire. And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it -- at all."
Bush, in Denmark ahead of attending a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland, said he wants his choice confirmed by the Senate by the time the Supreme Court reconvenes in October.
Whoever he nominates will be the subject of a political battle back home.
O'Connor was a swing vote and her departure gives Bush and conservatives an opportunity to shift the court to the right on social issues like abortion, affirmative action and civil liberties.
But Democrats and interest groups on the left promise a fight to block any nominee they view as too conservative.
(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)
Bush: Abortion Won't Decide Court Nominee
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday July 6, 2005
President Bush, during his stop in Denmark before heading to the G-8 summit, said Wednesday he will not select a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion or other hot-button political issues.
He urged senators to act "in a dignified way" in what is expected to be a contentious battle over confirming his first nominee to the nation's highest court.
Bush visited this Scandinavian nation to thank Danes for sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also strongly defended his decisions on Iraq, climate change, imprisoned terrorism suspects and aid to Africa — all of which have made him unpopular in Europe.
"I understand that people aren't going to agree with decisions I make," Bush said as he stood alongside Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen outside a white mansion that serves as his official summer residence. "I truly believe we're laying the foundation for peace."
Bush made his fourth trip to Europe this year just days after Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement. The president said that as he reviews candidates to replace her, "I'll try to assess their character, their interests."
Bush said he would have no "litmus test" that disqualifies candidates because of their opinions on abortion and gay marriage.
"I'll pick people who, one, can do the job, and people who are honest, people who are bright and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," Bush said.
Bush spent a few hours reviewing material on more than a half dozen potential replacements for O'Connor on his flight to Denmark. He has said that he will spend a few weeks narrowing a list of candidates and then interviewing some, and his goal is to see a new justice in place by the time the court begins its new term in October.
"I will take my time," Bush said. "I will be thorough in my investigation."
Bush bristled at criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a longtime friend who is often mentioned as a potential nominee for the high court. Conservatives said they aren't convinced Gonzales' beliefs on affirmative action and abortion are far enough to the right for their liking.
"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized," Bush said. "I'm loyal to my friends.
"And all the sudden this fella, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire," Bush said. "And so do I like it? No, I don't like it. At all."
Bush spent his 59th birthday here to thank Denmark for the several hundred troops the Scandinavian nation has contributed to the U.S.-led fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Outside Fredensborg Palace, where Bush had lunch with Queen Margrethe II and her husband, a group of people held small U.S. and Danish flags — and a large banner proclaiming, "Happy Birthday George." A smaller group held several protest banners urging U.S. and Danish withdrawal from Iraq and "Peace."
Fogh Rasmussen said the Danes were glad to help with both missions.
"We share the belief that freedom is universal and we share the belief that in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship you cannot stay neutral," the prime minister said.
After lunch with Queen Margrethe and about 50 other guests, Bush headed for a summit of rich nations in Scotland where discussion about the world's changing climate and aid to Africa were at the top of the agenda.
Bush said he is proud of his administration's tripling of U.S. aid to Africa, and his decision to double aid again by 2010. But his pledge still falls short of the commitment sought by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit host.
On climate change, Bush said warming temperatures are partly caused by manmade emissions. But he renewed his objection to the international Kyoto Protocol that mandates certain reductions.
"I think there's a better way forward," Bush said. "I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."
On the Net:
White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov
State Department background note on Denmark: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3167.htm
by alfayoko2005 | 2005-07-06 23:12