The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2001

Press Briefing Excerpts by Ari Fleischer 05/08/01

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Q Ari, Will the Judicial Nominations Be Sent Up Tomorrow, and can you give us an update on where the process is that had been sort of bogged down because of Democratic objections in the area of consultation and the like?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President will have an announcement to make very soon as far as the first round of judicial nominations he will be sending up to Capitol Hill. We'll be putting out tomorrow's schedule a little later this afternoon, and so that may have information that you're looking for. Just wait to see what the final information is this afternoon's guidance.

Q On the question of dealing with Senate Democratic objections.

MR. FLEISCHER: I was just getting to that. It was a two-part question. The President takes very seriously the Senate role of advice and consent. And throughout this process, at the President's direction, White House Counsel Al Gonzales has been talking with senators of both parties and will continue to talk to senators of both parties about the process.

The President wants to make this a cooperative, collegial process. That will be his intention, and that's how he will proceed with all his nominations for the Bench.

Q Ari, what message are you sending to Senate Democrats who may threaten to blue-slip some of your nominees without a valid reason?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President's message is that the nominees he is going to send up are going to be people that the nation will be proud of. There are going to be people who will not legislate from the Bench, there will be judicial scholars, there will be people who will represent the nation well serving on the courts. And he hopes to take that message to Democrats and Republicans alike.

He hopes that the process will not become politicized, and he is also concerned about the vacancies on the Bench and what vacancies on the Bench mean for denial of justice, as cases are not heard, where cases are stretched out or people have slow access to the courts because there are judicial emergencies in effect, and where there are not sufficient justices or judges to serve in various regions in circuit courts or district courts. So the President is going to move forward and work very closely with the Democrats and Republicans.

Q And if the process does become politicized, what is he prepared to do?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President is going to have a first round of announcements to make. Then I think it will be interesting to see how well received they are. The president hopes they will be received well; and that way, the process of filling up the courts can begin so people's justice is not delayed or denied.

Q Ari, on the subject of politicizing this process, Democrats would say it already has been and this White House has been part and parcel of that politicalization, A, by taking the ABA out of the system and by giving a green light to a new standard, this blue slip process in the Senate itself, where under the old system, you had to have two blue slips from each of the state senators or the senators from the states from which the nominee came. Now it's merely one. And by doing that, you have shifted the whole groundwork in dealing with the judicial appointees.

MR. FLEISCHER: As far as the American Bar Association is concerned, the American Bar Association is and will be involved. The only question is, is there any one group in America that should have a preferential role earlier than all other groups and above all other groups.

So the American Bar Association will have an equal role of all the other groups who are entitled and the President will welcome their input and their ideas once the nomination is made.

As far as the so-called blue slipping issue, that really is an internal Senate matter. The President's approach is going to be to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to convince them to support his nominees. That's his approach. I think you have to talk internally to the Senate about whether they set up any procedures that some say are in accordance with the way it's always been and others on the Hill say it's not in accordance with the way it's always been. That's an arguable point up on Capitol Hill.

Q Ari, would you agree that there is an unprecedented conflict between the Executive Branch and Congress over these judicial nominees?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think you have to let the process begin, and the process begins when the President sends his nominations up to the Hill and I think it will be very noteworthy to see how these initial round of nominees are received.

The President believes that he has every good reason to see these nominees received well, to be received in a vein that is productive so that the confirmation process can quickly move forward.

Q Since you've drawn so much attention to how this first list of nominees will be received, can you comment on some analysis that I have received from people on Capitol Hill that there has been a culling of this list already to eliminate from this first list any potential judicial nominee that might be blue-slipped? But this first slate, if you will, is a very clean slate, politically speaking, and that the controversies may, in fact, be visited upon the second, third and fourth list of judicial nominees.

MR. FLEISCHER: I would urge you to await the submission of the names and you'll come to your own conclusions about the quality and the caliber of the men and women that the President sends up to the Senate so it can play its constitutional role in advice and consent.

Q So the administration has not in any way changed the list of the number of people -- would send up on the last two or three days based on advice its gotten internally from Senate Republicans?

MR. FLEISCHER: It's hard to change something that hasn't happened yet. The administration has not yet submitted any lists up to the Hill.

Q Isn't it true that the number of nominees that were intended to be submitted, has been changed by the number of three?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President has not made any announcements yet. So until the President makes an announcement, any such speculation is conjecture or premature. The announcement is made when the President makes it.

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