This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 18, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Liberals worried about Judge Samuel Alito should take heart what happened yesterday. Did any of you see this ruling on assisted suicide?
Here is what made it interesting, six siding with the state of Oregon and against the U.S. government. Two of those six were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, one by President Bush Sr. So, do judges lean left once they get to the bench, no matter where it appears they lean during the confirmation process?
Retired Federal District Judge Charles Pickering joins us right now. You remember that guy, right? He was nominated to the bench originally by Bush 41. He's the author of "Supreme Chaos."
Judge, really good to have you.
JUDGE CHARLES PICKERING, AUTHOR, "SUPREME CHAOS": It's good to be with you, Neil.
CAVUTO: You went through this whole nutty process. Why is it so nutty now?
PICKERING: For four years, all of the hot-button social issues, abortion, the references to God in the public arena, the definition of marriage, pornography, all of these hot-button social issues have been transferred from the election of legislators in the states, congressmen and senators, to the confirmation of judges. And that is what has made it so mean-spirited.
CAVUTO: All right, now, in your case, the president had to do a recess appointment with you — you weren't going to the Supreme Court, but just trying to get you on the court, beyond — they were stopping you every way.
I was unanimously confirmed in 1990, when the first President Bush nominated me to district court. The second President Bush nominated me in 2001. I was bottled up in committee in 2002 on a straight party-line vote. The president re-nominated me in 2003. I was filibustered in 2003, and then he gave me a recess appointment that lasted until the Senate adjourned in 2004.
CAVUTO: And that expired. And then you said, the heck with it.
PICKERING: Well, that expired, and I was out.
PICKERING: And the president offered to re-nominate me, and I thanked him and said, I thought it was better for him to nominate someone younger and for me to go on with life. And that gave me the opportunity to speak out on this.
CAVUTO: A lot of people thought he should have nominated you for the Supreme Court. But that's a whole separate issue. But the whole process sullied a lot of folks.
But why does it keep happening. The ones, the Democratic cabal, or whatever you want to call them, who didn't want you said you were extreme. But you weren't extreme in years prior, when you were a unanimous choice.
PICKERING: And, you know, the people that supported me — I had the unanimous support of all the elected statewide Democratic officials in Mississippi, had broad-based African-American support. The current president and chairman of the Democratic Party, the chairman when I was chairman of the Republican Party supported me, but the special interest groups that were interested primarily in abortion, they were the ones that put so much — they had more influence on the Democrats in the Senate than all the Democrats in Mississippi.
CAVUTO: So, it has become a litmus test?
PICKERING: Abortion has become a litmus test.
But let me ask you, Judge. I don't know what a lot of folks who don't want people of your ilk, let's say, on the court worry about, because I think all judges turn leftward-leaning justices. I mean, we have seen this with Souter; we have seen this with Kennedy. And I'm beginning to wonder whether there's a trend here.
PICKERING: There is certainly something to be said for that.
I think that just being subjected to the Washington society, that they are constantly told that they are so bright if they're progressive and if they're liberal. And I think that begins to take effect, to some degree, and I think age has something to do with it. I think, age sort of mellows people.
CAVUTO: Does it make you more liberal?
PICKERING: Well, it has had the effect with some of the appointees. Now, it did not have that effect with Justice Scalia. It did not have that effect with Justice Rehnquist, nor with Justice Thomas.
CAVUTO: Yes. If anything, they moved more to the right, right?
And I don't think it will happen with Justice Roberts...
CAVUTO: What about Judge Alito?
PICKERING: I don't think it will happen with Judge Alito.
CAVUTO: Why do you say that?
PICKERING: Judge Alito has been on the bench for 15 years. He has been tried and tested. He knows who he is. And I think he's comfortable with who he is.
CAVUTO: But we thought that about Justice Souter. I remember that distinctly.
PICKERING: I think Justice Souter may have been sold under — that he maybe wasn't who he was sold to be.
I think he was not as conservative as people told us he was when he was appointed to the bench in the first place.
CAVUTO: But you think there's definitely something to that notion that, once they get to the court, they do change their stripes...
PICKERING: There is a tendency. Well, that's been true historically from the very beginning of the country.
Theodore Roosevelt was very upset with some of his appointees, because they didn't rule the way he thought they would rule. So, when they go on the bench with a lifetime appointment, there's a lot of independence there.
CAVUTO: But, on abortion, since justices have written in the past that that is finished law, however you want to describe it, the idea of revisiting it is unlikely, isn't it regardless?
PICKERING: Totally unlikely for the appellate courts. And, you know, one of the ironies of this situation is, the groups that fought me used all of their energy on the appellate level, and, when it came time to fight the Supreme Court nominees, they had hollered wolf too many times. They were ineffective.
CAVUTO: OK. Justice, thank you very much, Judge Charles Pickering.
"Supreme Chaos," that's the book. It kind of spells it all out for you, far better than we just did in this limited section.
Thank you, Judge.
PICKERING: Thanks, Neil.
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