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Special Report

Up Close and Personal With Judicial Nominees

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," April 14, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. ET

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The hard, hard right, not mainstream conservatism, knows that they can't achieve their goal of turning the clock back to the 1930s or the 1890s unless they get control, total control of the judiciary. And they can't stand it when even 10 of their minions are rejected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Well, that was Charlie Schumer today. This, a day when one of President Bush's previously stalled nominee got through the Senate Judiciary Committee with Democratic support; indeed, with Senator Schumer's vote.

As he suggested, though, 10 others remain blocked by a promised Democratic filibuster. Earlier this week, we asked our favorite law professor, Jonathan Turley, of George Washington University, to review those nominees with us.

Jonathan, welcome back.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Brit.

HUME: Let's look back quickly at the four we discussed the other night: Janice Brown, Pricilla Owen, Terrence Boyle and William Pryor. And your view of those, if I summarized correctly — and correct me if I'm wrong — was that Brown, Pryor and Owen, while certainly conservative, were not hard, hard right or way out of the mainstream. Terrence Boyle you said may not be eager but had a very high reversal rate from higher courts of his work as a district judge, correct?

TURLEY: Right. Of those four, I think that Pricilla Owen is probably in the worse shape because of statements made by Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general.

HUME: Right, you mentioned that. But he was critical of her when he was on the bench, right?

TURLEY: Right.

HUME: He disagreed. But does that make her — is she hard, hard right or an extremist?

TURLEY: Well, she's extremely conservative. But I have a problem with this view. All these people are more conservative than I am, but I wouldn't call them extremists.

HUME: Right.

TURLEY: You can still be a very good judge and hold views that they hold. Pryor is a good example. He could be breathtakingly conservative...

HUME: Right.

TURLEY: ... but he's proven that he will yield to the law, as in the case with the Ten Commandments.

HUME: Give me your assessment of the man whose nomination was approved today, and the threat of filibuster has been lifted. That's Thomas Griffith? First of all, who is he? What do we know about him?

TURLEY: Well, Griffith has really been put through the wringer because he is the general counsel of Brigham Young University, and he was accused by the Democrats of a suspension of his bar license for failure to pay dues and practicing without a license.

HUME: That sounds bad. How bad is that?

TURLEY: You know, the thing is, this guy has been grossly mistreated. First of all, thousands of lawyers go into arrears because of their dues. It's not good, but there's a lot of lawyers of multiple jurisdictions, and it happens. It's not — it's the difference between...

HUME: So within the profession of law it's not a big deal.

TURLEY: Right. There's a difference between venal and mortal sin.

HUME: Well, it appears he's going to make it through all this.

TURLEY: Well, the other thing is that he has a perfectly good reason why he did not become a Utah bar member. And five presidents of the Utah Bar supported him in his interpretation. And I think this is the correct move for the committee. But I do think he has been grossly mistreated.

HUME: All right. Let's turn to another one who is controversial, and maybe subject to filibuster, one William Myers. What do we — what can you tell us about William Myers?

TURLEY: I think the White House is going to have a serious problem getting Myers through. The reason is he's a former Interior Department official. He was also a lobbyist for mining interests. But at Interior he took fairly extreme positions, you know, and very controversial positions.

HUME: On environmental matters.

TURLEY: On environmental and Native-American matters. He's also said things that were viewed as sort of over the top and hostile towards environmental issues.

HUME: So you think that this is a political matter, he might — he's probably going to be filibustered, but he might be able to be defeated even.

TURLEY: Well, I think that he's — I think they probably could get him through on a straight vote, but he really is a third rail candidate in terms of filibusters.

HUME: Third party — all right. William Haynes. William Haynes is another nominee. There he is.

What do we know about him? And how does he stack up on the hard, hard right scale?

TURLEY: Well, Haynes actually, I think, is probably really the most in danger of not only a successful filibuster but even an up or down negative vote

HUME: Why?

TURLEY: The reason is that he was general counsel of the Department of Defense, he signed the controversial memo dealing with whether the president could violate federal law, whether torture in some circumstances was allowable. That controversy is still brewing, and there are very significant allegations against him. I think the White House would have been wiser if they had held off a bit. But right now, there are legitimate controversial issues here.

HUME: But he's — is he in your view a far right extremists?

TURLEY: Well, it's hard to say in terms of all of his views. But his views on the torture memo I think do raise legitimate questions.

HUME: Now, there's a set of judges beginning — Richard Griffin is one of them. I guess he's from Michigan, correct?

TURLEY: Right.

HUME: This is distinguishable from Mr. Griffith, who made it through today. What about him and what about some of these other judges from Michigan, four of whom, I believe, are being blocked?

TURLEY: Right. There are four Michigan judges, and three of them I couldn't get any Democratic staffer to actually give me a reason what the problem was.

HUME: Right. What about Griffin himself? Is he one of those you couldn't get an reasons on?

TURLEY: Well, yes, that's right. It was actually — in terms of those judges, Griffin, Neilson (ph) and Sade (ph), have virtually no, you know, articulated reason against him.

The fourth judge, Judge McKeague, who's rank is...

HUME: Now, what's his name? His name is David McKeague, right?

TURLEY: David McKeague, and he is on the court. And he...

HUME: Which court?

TURLEY: He's a trial judge.

HUME: Right.

TURLEY: And he actually has been listed as well qualed by the ABA. The only statement made against him is "his temperament," which is in political terms just above bad dental hygiene. It's one of those terms you use when you don't have anything else to oppose someone on.

And McKeague is very well respected. And once again, there's no reason for these four Michigan judges to be held, except of a turf war with the Michigan senators. It has nothing to do with their background.

HUME: All right. Jonathan Turley, great to have you. Keep us abreast of this.

TURLEY: Thanks, Brit.

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