Dems Changing the Judicial Process?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, October 23, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Another one of President Bush's top judicial picks is getting grilled by Senate Democrats. Are they being especially hard on Justice Janice Rogers Brown (search) because she's a conservative black woman?

Joining us from Washington, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Republican senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch.

Senator, good to see you, as always.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R, UTAH: Well, nice to talk to you, Alan.

COLMES: Thanks for being here.

HATCH: Nice to be with you.

COLMES: Let me put up on the screen what you have said is specifically, which dove tails what I just said. You said, "She's a conservative African-American woman, and for some that alone disqualifies her nomination to the D.C. circuit."

You're basically accusing Democrats of being racist here, if you say that. I don't hear that coming -- they disagree with her because she's conservative. It's not because she's African-American that they disagree.

HATCH: Well, keep in mind, she's on the fast track of the Supreme Court, and they're definitely afraid that they're going to get a conservative African-American woman on the court...

COLMES: It's not because she's black. You're injecting race into this.

HATCH: No, no, no. Wait just a second. I have never called any of my colleagues racists.

What I am saying is that they really don't want another African- American on the court who's conservative. It's just that simple. Now that doesn't necessarily involve race. It does involve an attitude towards conservatives.

But it's really even more than that. It all comes down to the issue of abortion. Really, that's really what's driving all of this. These outside groups, the People for the American Way (search), the Alliance for Justice (search), and NARAL (search), the National Abortion Rights Action League, just to name a few of them, are just left-wing organizations that have just basically smeared every one of these judges. And they've done a particularly despicable job against Janice Rogers Brown.

COLMES: I will give you that, it could be very well abortion-related, the objection to her. But do you then...

HATCH: But I don't even know if she's pro-life. I don't personally know that and all I can say is they just presume she is because she's basically a conservative.

COLMES: Her record has been pro-life. That's been her record. But you did inject, you said because she's African-American conservative woman, and it's not about -- you take the words African-American out of there. Her race has nothing to do with why Democrats oppose her.

HATCH: Oh, come on. Look, you saw the cartoon that was done against her. It wasn't done by my colleagues but it was done by many of these outside left wing groups.

COLMES: It was done by one radical group.

HATCH: Fine, but that's typical of what we're getting.

COLMES: No, it's not, sir. With all due respect...

HATCH: Oh, yes it is. Oh, yes it is.

Let me tell you with regard to just a couple of weeks ago, one of the top civil rights leaders, a very liberal man, head of the ACLU (search) in Mississippi, a minister told me, he said, "Senator, you're right, it's all about abortion." But he said, "I'm pro-choice," he said, "but it's despicable." He said, "It's all about abortion." And it really is.

COLMES: I'll agree with you there. But you talk about something else. That cartoon, I will distance myself, I reject that cartoon. I think it's horrible taste but that doesn't represent mainstream Democratic thought, the cartoon we just showed.

HATCH: Of course it doesn't. Every Democrat on the committee said it was a despicable cartoon. But it's just -- it may not be typical of all the groups, but it is somewhat typical of some of the arguments used against these conservative jurists.

And let me tell you, it really does make a difference that she is a conservative African-American woman jurist, Supreme Court justice from California, who is on the fast track to the Supreme Court. And if they're not liberal, then just look at the Congressional Black Caucus. Automatically, knee-jerk came out against her even though they didn't listen to her. Democrats were condemning her without having heard her say one word of testimony.

COLMES: Well, the issue...

HATCH: Now let me just sum it up. I just was on the floor tonight with one of the leading Democrats on the committee. I said, "What did you think?"

He said, "She's terrific. She was really, really good."

I said, "Well, then, are you going to let her go through without a filibuster?" And I got kind of just a kind of a sad look.

But to make a long story short, I hope they will. She came across very, very well. In 27 years on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I don't know that I've ever seen a better witness than Janice Rogers Brown.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator, it's always good to see you. Sean Hannity here. And I interviewed Zell Miller yesterday, Senator Miller of Georgia. And he said he never, in all his years, has met a more qualified person, and he's outraged at his own party.

HATCH: He is. He is.

HANNITY: There is a majority that would vote to confirm this woman, including Zell Miller. He'll be a part of that majority as a Democrat.

And the constitution, sir, is very specific. Seven times where a super majority specifically is required. This is not one of them. The Democrats are changing the judicial process and insisting on a super majority by these filibusters. And the big question I have is what are Republicans going to do about it?

HATCH: Well, the Republicans are currently in the process of doing everything they possibly can, short of what I call a constitutional alternative, which is to make an non-debatable point of order that changes the perceived rule by the Democrats.

There's never been a filibuster before of any federal judicial nominee. Never, not in the history of this country, until now. Now there are about seven or eight who are being filibustered, and I hope Janice Rogers Brown is not one of them.

But we make the nondebatable point of order that basically changes the rule and says that the advise and consent clause means a vote up and down.

HANNITY: Senator...

HATCH: Of course, if the chair rules in our favor, then they would have to appeal the ruling of the chair, we'd have to defeat that appeal, and then we'd go right to the vote.

HANNITY: Well, I agree, and I think that should happen. It's either that or force the Democrats to engage in a real filibuster and take it to the Senate floor. And all the Republicans and supporters of, in this case, Janice Rogers Brown, stay around. But, you know, we discussed this during the Miguel Estrada case, for two years, over two years it was hanging out there.

HATCH: That's right.

HANNITY: and nothing happened. The Republicans, as you pointed out, they allowed this man to stand out there. They allowed these Democrats to do what had never been done before and filibuster here. And here is somebody who had the highest qualifications that eventually had to withdraw from the process because the Democrats outlasted the Republicans here. They beat...

HATCH: No. I think you're blaming the wrong party. I do believe that you are giving the Democrats some blame, but I would have done this long before now.

But keep in mind, when this is done the Democrats are going to blow up the Senate and that will take probably two months of just despicable conduct that we'll have to put up. But I personally believe it's worth it. I believe it's worth it sooner or later.

But a lot of conservatives think if we just stay there all night long and keep the Democrats there all night long, that that will solve it. No, they'll just continue to filibuster. We're going to do that, too. We'll do everything we can short of -- short of the constitutional ...

HANNITY: I'm glad to hear that because we didn't do that with Miguel Estrada.

HATCH: Yes, we did. We were there late at night. We -- it didn't make any difference. We had two senators who were sick, so they couldn't stay all night long.


HATCH: But I was there till 3 or 4 in the morning. I have to say, we argued but it wouldn't have made any difference. They were going to filibuster, no matter what.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this, because the very people that lecture us all the time and say they are the champions of minority rights in this country -- now we have three specific incidents: Miguel Estrada with the highest infections. We have Priscilla Owens, who is a female with an appointment that still has not gone through. And now we have Janice Rogers Brown.

I don't understand how people can make this claim and then they cannot get beyond politics when it comes to supporting qualified, hard-working people. When I look at this -- the background of this woman, Senator, I got to tell you something. She -- you know, overcoming obstacles, born in Alabama, daughter of crop sharers, attended segregated schools. She is a single mother, put her way through college.

I mean, she is the embodiment of everything that's great about this country, and now, right at the Senate door, they are stopping her dream cold. It's outrageous.

HATCH: You have that right, and she really is the embodiment. She has come up from nowhere. Lived through the Jim Crow laws, segregation, all of it. Went through all the prejudice.

Now I don't think my colleagues are prejudiced or racist because they're against her, but they are against any minority who may be conservative or may be thought to be pro-life. And I don't think you call that racist but it certainly isn't right.

And in her case, you know, they tried to make a case that she's outside the mainstream. Give me a break. This is a woman who won 76 percent of the California vote. She was the top vote getter of all of those California state Supreme Court justices up that year, liberals and -- the rest of them were quite liberal. But she was the top vote getter and she just -- she was terrific.

I think the Democrats admit it.

HANNITY: Senator, you mentioned in the last segment with Alan, you mentioned that abortion is at the heart of this.

HATCH: There's no question about it.

HANNITY: I know the position of Miguel Estrada. Are we now at a point where there is institutionalized discrimination -- I'm a Catholic -- against Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, people with conservative points of view on abortion? Are they basically saying in the Senate, you are not qualified if you are practicing your religion?

HATCH: Well, basically, they always come up with the -- that you're outside of the system of American jurisprudence. That's a joke. Because frankly, Janice Brown has written more majority opinions on the California Supreme Court than anybody else.


HATCH: In other words, she's so accepted that that's how she does it. They pick isolated cases that they disagree with, where she has followed the law and where she's followed the statutory law. And then they -- but it all comes down to abortion.

And No. 2, they can't stand -- that's right, they can't stand a minority who doesn't toe the liberal line. They just plain don't want to have another Clarence Thomas, who wins respect everywhere he goes among minority people, except for those who are opposed him.

HANNITY: The champions of minority rights cannot get beyond politics here, so -- and if somebody happens to be a believer that life begins at conception, as a matter of faith, or if they believe that racial or institutionalized discrimination is wrong in the form of racial preferences, which is the mainstream view, as evidenced by the fact she got 76 percent of the vote in the last election in California, mainstream. Then if you don't hold that liberal orthodox view, you are not qualified.

HATCH: Well, that -- they don't -- they'll say she's not qualified, no matter how qualified she is, because they don't want this woman to have a chance. Because she could make it to the Supreme Court, and even if she doesn't, she would go on one of the most important courts in the court of appeals for the District of Columbia.

And let me tell you, you know, what really offended me, I saw some of the media reports, and they cut her where she was looking very sad and tried to imply that she almost cried. Well, she didn't. She was a very strong woman throughout the hearing.

COLMES: Senator...

HATCH: She did say that she was hurt by that cartoon, but then she started to laugh and said, but I'm in pretty good company with Condoleezza Rice and...

COLMES: Senator, that cartoon doesn't represent -- As you point out, Democrats distanced themselves from that cartoon. They want no part of it...

HATCH: Wait a minute, Alan. That's not right. The Democrat senators, some of them distanced themselves. And I think all of them would. But that cartoon came from the type of despicable outside and inside the beltway liberal interest group stuff. I'll tell you, because I...

COLMES: I agree with you about that, but that does not represent most Democrats. Democratic senators said they had nothing to do with it.

HATCH: These are Democrats. These are Democrat special interest groups that are far left, that are distorting the judicial process...

COLMES: And they're not mainstream Democrats or mainstream liberals. I want no part of this cartoon.

HATCH: Are you kidding? The Democrat senators do whatever they tell them to do. That's why we're going through these...

COLMES: But you're making -- Let's make a distinction here, Senator. So Democratic senators have distanced themselves from that cartoon. You're trying to tie them together when they say they want no part of it. They don't approve of it.

HATCH: Now, wait a minute. I'm not trying to tie them to the cartoon. I am trying them to the special interest groups like People for the American Way, the Alliance for Justice and NARAL. And these very left wing groups that they just toe the line to. They just do whatever they tell them to do. They don't want these people on the courts, because they're just afraid that they might, you know -- that they might be good.

COLMES: Senator Schumer was tagged as anti-Catholic for voting against certain nominees. He approved -- he voted for 90 percent of President Bush's nominees so far. That's not anti-Catholic.

HATCH: Let me tell you, you know, I think in my 27 years, I may have voted against two or three. Now what I'm saying is that we're finding them voting time after time after time against them. I don't think he's anti- Catholic. But I do think this. That they certainly -- when you look at Bill Prior and what he went through, every question was about his deeply held personal beliefs. One senator even referred to his religion, his religion is Catholic and they all knew it.

HANNITY: Senator, always good to talk to you. Thank you for coming.

HATCH: Thank you.

HANNITY: Appreciate you being here.

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