Battle For The Bench

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: As we continue on "Hannity & Colmes," I'm Sean Hannity.

Still to come tonight, after missing for more than six weeks, 8-year- old Shasta Groene is now back with her family, but what exactly happened the evening of their nightmare when it began? We have shocking developments in that case. We'll go live to Idaho with exclusive details in the investigation.

But first, the new vacancy in the Supreme Court has left President Bush with some major decisions to make, decisions that will no doubt lead to scrutiny, no matter what the choice happens to be that he makes.

A rumored favorite of the president is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. But conservatives, including our next guest, are already warning the president to stay away from a Gonzales nomination. Joining us now from Washington, former Attorney General Ed Meese.

Would that not be a good choice?

ED MEESE, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Sean, actually, it's not correct that I warned the president about anything.


MEESE: I've talked with people at the White House about process, how the procedure works. Actually, I have been involved in the appointment of four justices during the time Ronald Reagan was president, Sandra Day O'Connor herself in 1981, the elevation of Chief Justice Rehnquist, the appointment of Antonin Scalia and the appointment of Tony Kennedy.

And so I have been asked by the White House to discuss with them how this works, the process, and that sort of thing. Yes, but I think that — my own view is that I have confidence in the president to appoint someone, as he said he would, who believes in the Constitution, who's faithful to the Constitution, and who will interpret the law and the Constitution as they're written, according to their original meaning, and not try to make things up, as some judges have, based upon personal prejudices, policy preferences, or some of the agenda to satisfy the agenda of some special interest group.

HANNITY: See, I agree with all of that, and I think the president will keep his word. There are concerns about the attorney general, as it relates to a decision he helped make on the Texas Supreme Court involving a teenager's right to seek an abortion without notifying their parents.

There are other issues about the attorney general arguing fiercely that the administration should not take a hard-line position as it relates to affirmative action and Second Amendment rights. And I have been told by prominent conservatives that there will be a fight on their hands with the administration if they go for the attorney general.

Have you heard similar things, and what do you think of that?

MEESE: Well, I would hope that, if groups have those feelings, that they would express them directly to the president and to the White House. I think the president needs all the information he can get when he makes an important decision like this. But as I say, in my own case, I'm reserving judgment, and I'm not making any public comment on any of the nominees. I think I know almost all of them personally, and so it's much easier and much more appropriate for me just to hold my fire on these.


MEESE: But I am very concerned about some of the left-wing groups, particularly people like Teddy Kennedy, and Chuckie Schumer, and people like that, who've already tried to box the president in with a lot of ridiculous statements...

COLMES: Attorney General Meese...

MEESE: ... with the idea that he somehow has to consult with them before he makes the nomination.

COLMES: I believe it's Charles E. Schumer, but good to have you back on the show, sir.

MEESE: Thanks. Good to be with you, Alan.

COLMES: The New York Times indicated over the weekend that you are against the Gonzales nomination. Is that true?

MEESE: Nobody ever talked with me with the New York Times, and I have not expressed my view to any newspaper.

COLMES: So you will not state whether you're for it or against it?

MEESE: What I'm saying is I'm not commenting on any of the nominees. And I've held that position.

COLMES: Now, you met with Andrew Card. Did you and Andrew Card have a — can you reveal at all what you spoke about?

MEESE: I said, already, I met with some of the people at the White House at their request. And in the course of that conversation, we went over the experience from previous Supreme Court appointments and we talked about what happened.

We talked about the nefarious activities of some on the left, the character assassination that was attempted on Bob Bork, things such as that, and how we could avoid that so the president indeed could appoint a true constitutionalist who would get confirmed.

COLMES: Is it important that there be an anti-choice candidate, an anti-abortion candidate? Is that important?

MEESE: I think the president has said that he doesn't have any litmus tests and that he just wants someone who will interpret the law faithfully. And I think that's exactly the right standard.

COLMES: He says that, but if he were to appoint somebody who is anti- choice, and indeed Gonzales has been suggested as not being anti-abortion enough, you know that right-wing groups are going to object, right?

MEESE: Well, I think groups would have their views, and I don't think anybody knows precisely what the views of most of the candidates are on any particular issue, unless they've already ruled on that issue some time in the past.

COLMES: According to a survey out by the Hart Group (ph), the president's 19 points on people's confidence in him to pick a justice to the court since January 2003. Why do you suppose that is?

MEESE: I have no idea, unless it's possibly this barrage of media attacks on the president for a whole lot of subjects. And of course, we've already had the left weighing in with all kinds of statements and so on, attacks on purported nominees.

So I think that it's partially the result of this whole media blitz. And I think that's one of the reasons. But I'm convinced that when the president lives up to his campaign promises, which he made in 2000 and 2004, to appoint someone faithful to the Constitution, that that approval by the country will rebound considerably on this subject.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Meese, we will be watching closely. Thanks, as always, for being with us.

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