This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," July 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY WHIP: Presidents like to be the first to announce presidential appointments. And I’m reasonably confident that it’s fairly routine for presidents to first announce presidential appointments. And we’ll learn, like all of you, shortly after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: For a while today, we all thought we knew, we journalists, what the president was going to do tonight. But we’ve become less certain as the day has gone on. Tuesday’s announcement remains the big story of the day. So who to turn to for intelligent thoughts on all this? Why, who other than Stuart Taylor, senior writer and columnist for National Journal, who joins me now?
STUART TAYLOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Nice to be with you.
HUME: Nice to be with you, Stuart.
Let’s talk for a moment about the person who was the focus of all the attention today, whom we all thought might be the one, and now we’re all much less sure. That’s Edith Clement (search), a judge on the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. What about her?
TAYLOR: Well, her main distinction seems to be that she’s a Republican appointee. This President Bush put her on the Fifth Circuit. The previous President Bush put her on the district court in New Orleans, and that almost nothing is known about her views.
She’s got a generally conservative flavor about her, if you look at voting patterns. She tends to vote with conservatives on conservative- liberal splits. But I haven’t come across a single opinion she’s ever written, or a concurrence, or a dissent that sort of tells you, "Oh, she’s like Scalia," or, "She’s going to be more like O’Connor."
And if they choose her -- and the speculation now seems to be moving...
HUME: Moving away from her, yes.
TAYLOR: If they choose her, I would think they would have a hard time answering conservatives who said, "Wait a minute. We said no more mysteries, no more Souters, no more people who we don’t know anything about." And they don’t know much about her, except, of course, I’m sure people on the conservative networks vouch for her to their friends.
HUME: Another prominent name, prominent conservative, Michael Luttig. What do we know about Michael Luttig?
TAYLOR: We know a lot about Michael Luttig (search). He’s been on the appeals court bench for quite a few years and has written...
HUME: That’s the circuit down in Richmond?
TAYLOR: Yes. He’s only 50, 51. He was appointed appellate judge by the first President Bush very early on. And he is a conservative hero. He’s a member of the networks. He’s a member of the Federalist Society. Movement conservatives say, "He’s one of us. We’re confident he’d do the right thing by us."
HUME: A lot of controversial opinions by him?
TAYLOR: A lot of controversial opinions. Now, he’s never said Roe versus Wade should be overruled. He’s never said gay rights should be wiped out. So the ammunition for liberals to use against him is somewhat limited.
But dozens and dozens of opinions, where if you get -- you can develop an argument, you know, liberals can say, "Ah, if you really understood what he was up to here," you know, "you’d see what a dangerous conservative he is."
It would be interesting if he was he, but that’s...
HUME: Your anticipation would be that, if he were named, that the president wouldn’t have any trouble with him on his right?
TAYLOR: Not a bit, no. I think, if you polled all of the most conservative legal experts in the country and said, "Who would be your favorite?" This would probably be the one.
HUME: Now, people who mention Luttig, sometimes in the same breath mention as a potential candidate, one John Roberts (search). Who’s John Roberts?
TAYLOR: John Roberts is a Bush appointee to the federal appeals court here in Washington, D.C., often called the second-most important court in the country. He’s only been there two years, so he doesn’t have an extensive record there.
But he’s very well-qualified. He had a reputation as being one of the best, if not the best, appellate litigator in the country. Conservatives are very comfortable with him. They think he’s one of them.
But he’d be much easier to confirm -- he’d be easier to confirm, maybe much easier than Luttig, I think, because he doesn’t have a controversial paper trail, and he’s got a lot of friends across the political spectrum. Luttig seems to hang out more with his conservative buddies.
HUME: Do you know Roberts?
TAYLOR: I know him slightly.
HUME: What’s your sense of him? Is a guy with sort of the kind of a personality that would help him in a confirmation hearing?
TAYLOR: Very much so. He’s likeable. He’s very easy. And I think he’d be a tremendously impressive witness. And he’s very well-liked by everyone I know who knows him.
HUME: Now, the other person of whom we hear that is well-liked is Judge Michael McConnell (search), another Bush appointee, thought to be a conservative, thought well of, I understand, in the groves of academe, from which, I guess, he springs, right? He was a professor? What about him, Michael McConnell?
TAYLOR: Yes, he was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and then later at Utah Law School. He’s now a federal appeals court judge, put on the appeals court out there in Salt Lake City by this president, Bush.
He’s a brilliant scholar. He’s thought of as the leading academic expert on the religion clause of the First Amendment. He’s very well respected by liberal, as well as constitutional scholars, although a lot of the liberal scholars would say, "We can’t have him on the Supreme Court. He’s a great guy, but he’d vote wrong."
HUME: So unmistakably...
TAYLOR: Unmistakably conservative, unmistakably outspoken...
HUME: Controversially so, or just -- or really...
TAYLOR: Well, it’s in the nature. I mean, he’s attacked Roe v. Wade (search) very forthrightly. He said we should have a constitutional amendment to get rid of it, just for one example.
He’s shown an independent streak. For example, he wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing a Supreme Court decision in Bush vs. Gore (search), the one that made Mr. Bush president. He didn’t say, "No, they should have made Gore president," but he criticized their method. And that was a pretty bold thing for a conservative to do at the time.
HUME: Particularly, since this...
TAYLOR: Particularly one who might want to be appointed to the Supreme Court by the guy who won the case.
HUME: By that president. Do you got any gut about this?
TAYLOR: In terms of guessing? My gut, if I had to bet a dollar, I’d bet on Luttig right now. But the rumors have been swirling around in such an incredible way over the last 24 hours, over Edith Brown Clement, Joy Clement they call her, Edith Jones, Mike Luttig.
Those are the names that keep coming up, but then there’s a long list of people who most of us had never heard of until a week or two ago, since the president started shopping for women and the like.
HUME: Stuart, pleasure to have you. Always good to see you.
TAYLOR: Nice to be with you.
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