For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 19, 2005
Press Briefing with Scott McClellan and Dan Bartlett on the President's Supreme Court Justice Nominee
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
7:57 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, I think we ought to get started, given the time of the day. I'm going to start off with a little bit of tick-tock, and then I'm going to turn it over to the Counselor to the President, Dan Bartlett.
Now, let me just start off by saying that this should be considered on background until the President makes his remarks, and then at that point, you can put this on the record. But because the President has not made his remarks publicly yet, I want to hold off on doing this on the record until then.
Let me just back up --
Q So the embargo is gone, right? It's just on background.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the embargo is there for on the record, but you can put this -- you can consider this on background until then.
And let me back up to the day that Justice O'Connor made her announcement that she was going to be leaving the court. That was July 1st. You all heard remarks from the President in the Rose Garden. He said then that this is a responsibility he takes seriously, that he was going to move forward in a thoughtful and deliberate way. He directed the staff to work with the Department of Justice and pull together information on potential nominees -- this would include background on the nominee, as well as information on their key rulings.
The President also outlined clear criteria he was looking for in a nominee. He said he was -- he wanted someone of great legal ability and good judgment, someone of integrity who would fully interpret our -- faithfully interpret our laws and our Constitution.
And then the President headed -- when the President headed to Denmark aboard Air Force One, he took a notebook with him. That notebook contained information on 11 potential nominees at that point. This was a diverse group of individuals, people of great legal ability from all walks of life.
Now, the list was fluid. We were constantly reviving the list. The President was taking into account the thoughts and ideas from senators of both parties. We consulted more than 70 members of the Senate -- that includes three-quarters of the Senate Democrats. I think you heard from some long-time serving members of the Senate who said that this level of consultation was unprecedented.
The President also, during this time period, was asking questions and discussing potential nominees with his key advisors. The President also was determined to move forward in a timely manner so that the nominee could be confirmed by the time the Court comes back into session in October.
As you know, when the President returned, he met with Senators Frist, Reid, Specter, and Leahy. And a good bit of that discussion, as I talked about at the time, focused on the confirmation process and the timing. So they had a good discussion about that at that point.
And the President, as you have heard him say, has called for his nominee to receive fair treatment and a reasonable timetable for Senate action. The two most recent examples set a good precedent -- those are Justices Ginsberg and Breyer. Justice Ginsberg, once President Clinton submitted her nomination, was given a vote within 42 days on the floor of the Senate. And Justice Breyer, it was 73 days later. They were able to -- the Senate was able to go through a thorough consideration of these nominees and it did not require months of delay, as the President talked about last week.
Now today, the President -- I'll go through a little bit more of the tick-tock -- the President, as I think some of you are now aware, will be nominating Judge John Roberts of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy. The President met personally with five potential nominees -- one on Thursday, two on Friday, and two on Saturday. As you heard the President say, there were others that he knew and he did not need to meet with.
Now Harriet Miers, the President's Counsel, was in all of these interviews. It was on Friday that the President met with Judge Roberts. This was after he had returned from his trip to North Carolina. They had a visit over in the Residence. It was over in the sitting area of the Residence. The President wanted to have a relaxed and comfortable environment where he could get to know Judge Roberts personally and professionally. And so he thought that was the best place to have their visit.
They visited for about an hour -- that included a quick tour of the Residence, as well. The President showed him the Lincoln Bedroom and the Queen's Bedroom, the Yellow Oval Office and the Truman Balcony.
Then over the weekend, the President took his time to carefully consider the nominees and those that he had visited with, and he stayed in contact with his key advisors. I know he talked with Andy Card on a number of occasions during the weekend. And it was last night, Monday night, that the President essentially had made his decision.
There were a couple of issues that still needed to be addressed, and those were, essentially, by this morning. And so a final decision was really made this morning by the President, and the President began talking to the Vice President and some of his senior staff during that -- after this morning time period.
Then the President had his meeting with Prime Minister Howard, and they had the press availability. Following that, the President and Prime Minister Howard were joined by their spouses, Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Bush. And they headed upstairs to have lunch in the Residence. And this was a little bit before 12:30 p.m. when they headed upstairs. And then at approximately 12:35 p.m., the President stepped out of the lunch to call Judge Roberts and offer him the nomination.
The President returned to the lunch after that conversation. And this is a quote from the President, he told those that were gathered there, Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Bush. The President said, "I just offered the job to a great, smart, 50-year-old lawyer who has agreed to serve on the bench." And then a short time ago, about 7:00 p.m., the President and Mrs. Bush were joined by Judge Roberts and his wife over in the Residence for dinner. And I think it was a little bit after 7:30 p.m. when the President made some outreach calls to members of the Senate. The President called Senators Frist, Specter, Reid, and Leahy -- I believe in that order -- and informed them of his decision. And that's a quick overview of the tick-tock.
And with that, I'm going to turn it over to Dan Bartlett, and he'll talk a little bit more about Judge Roberts, and then be here to take whatever questions you have.
Q What was the reaction from the senators, Scott?
MR. BARTLETT: We don't have feedback yet. The President is over in the Residence. We'll have to fill you on the fact that -- I'm sure it was, speedy confirmation; we can look forward to voting yes for him. (Laughter.)
Q Who were the other interviews that --
MR. BARTLETT: Well, we're not going to be able to -- unfortunately, we're not going to be -- we don't think it's fair to those other candidates to list out the people that the President met with. But I think it's fair to say that as the President charged this administration and staff back when Judge Gonzales was in charge of the process, and as Harriet Miers has taken over the process, that he wanted an exhaustive list that -- that represented America, that -- from people, as he has said time and again, represented all walks of life.
And that was the case during this process. And I think as the President intimated himself the other day, saying that there's some folks that he knew already, people that he had had relationships with or knew enough about that he didn't feel it was necessary for a personal interview with, and others that he wanted to. So there were five interviews done in person, as Scott said, done over the course of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The one with Judge Roberts was -- had some other logistical hurdles. He was actually teaching a class in London with the -- an international trade class in London. He had to cancel his class Friday and today and has been shuttling back and forth across the pond to have these meetings. So I can only imagine he's a bit jet lagged, but in great spirits and obviously honored for -- with this -- with this awesome responsibility and looks forward to the process.
But let me just step back a little bit. As this process unfolded and as the President is looking at what he wants in a judge, the thing he kept coming back to was qualifications, experience, and judgment. And what you found as you looked at the list -- and there were some extremely qualified people -- but with Judge Roberts, the credentials just jumped off the page.
Anybody you talk to, representing a broad legal and philosophical spectrum, all come back to the fact that this person has set himself apart in an elite group when it comes to his qualifications. He's one of the brightest appellate minds and brightest attorneys in this country. He has, at a young age of 50, has argued before the Supreme Court more than 30 times -- 38 times, I believe. This is somebody who graduated with honors, both undergrad and Harvard Law, has worked in -- as Deputy Solicitor General both in the Reagan administration, Bush administration. He's worked in private practice in all kinds of different -- different type of legal disciplines.
And when you hear the type of people who have come forward and the type of comments you see from people from the legal community -- whether it be the late Lloyd Cutler or others who just show a deep amount of respect for Judge Roberts and his legal capabilities. And that's really what the President was seeing as he was looking through all this information.
But as you know and those who have covered the President for awhile, he likes to have the info, he likes to have the background, but he also is a field player, as I call him. He likes to size people up himself, make his own judgment. And what he wanted to do is to make sure the person matched the resume, to make sure that not only was this person -- had all the check marks on their resume, but also had those innate qualities you're looking for -- the character and temperament and judgment, and, frankly, leadership qualities that you want in the highest court in the land.
And that's really based both on his conversations with people, and the intelligence he was gathering through advisors and friends and people who we had reached out, but also in his hour-long conversation with him, he did find a person he felt that not only had a sharp legal mind, but also had the type of character and judgment that he was looking for in a candidate for office.
As Scott mentioned, he wanted to be in a comfortable environment in the Residence. The sitting areas up on the personal residence floor of the White House, really right outside of where the President and Mrs. Bush -- in their most intimate quarters. And Barney and Beazley are -- they're laying at their feet, and they're having -- and they were able to have a great conversation both at a personal level, as well as -- and professional. It was professional. And I'm not going to be able to get into the details of the questions, but it was wide-ranging.
Like I said, both he wanted to know about his personal life and about where he came from, and who -- and he is from Long Beach, Indiana. It's a small community right outside of Gary, Indiana. His father was an electrical engineer, but worked in the steel mill there outside of Gary, Indiana. And he spent his summers both in high school and in college working there at the steel mill as an electrician's assistant. He graduated with 24 classmates; small school. He was class president. He was team-captain of the football team, somebody who just exhibited leadership qualities right out of the gate; went to Harvard and really set himself apart there, as well as I said, graduating with honors, as well as being part of the paper there, and doing a lot of things that distinguished himself.
So again, this is a -- the President was honored that there were so many qualified people, but it really was Judge Roberts demonstrating both in his prior experience and his interviews and in what we've heard from others as the person that has really distinguished himself in our country as somebody worthy of the highest court in the land. He -- so the President was excited about the opportunity he has today. He's -- as Scott said, talked to him at 12:35 p.m. today to give him that news. It's a -- as I said, they're having dinner right now, and some time -- at 7:00 p.m. that is. And I'm sure the President is probably already finished. But he -- and then, obviously, they're preparing for tonight, in which the President will make some remarks.
With that, I'm more than happy to answer some questions.
Q Dan, where was the factoring in of a minority or a woman in the President's thinking? You talked about how he went through the thinking, but it's another white man from great schools with a regular story.
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I think it's very safe to say that the President, when he was telling the country that he was casting a wide net, he did just that. And he interviewed women. He was considering minorities at the highest level and on the shortest of lists. There were -- the last, most intimate list the President was working with represented all of America, no question about it. He was taking the advice of members of the United States Senate when they said they wanted somebody with the type of qualifications that he believes can unite the country. We looked at people who had served on the bench, and people who didn't serve on the bench. They were in the lists, and of the type of materials that we pulled together at the present time.
Now, like I said I'm not -- I don't think it's fair to the people who were not chosen to give the names of who were not. But I think it's very safe to say that there was serious consideration given to people who represent all walks of life. And at the end of the day, though, the President has to look and say, who has the most qualifications, who is the best person, brightest mind, best character?
And at the end of the day, his judgment was, is that Justice -- Judge Roberts's credentials and background and experience stand apart, that he is just -- when you look at -- particularly when you look at those who know him best in the legal community, and you see the type of comments that are made, people who represent both political parties, who represent the broad ideological spectrum, all of them come back to the fact that it's unquestioned that this person has the qualities and experience and judgment to be serving on the highest court in the land.
Q On Friday, was that the first time the President and Judge Roberts have met? And also, what role did the Vice President play in the selection?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, May 2000, I believe as -- you probably can pull up a file photo of the 11 appellate justices. The President did a photo-op in the East Room. Judge Roberts was there. So obviously, that's my --
Q May '01, right? May '01?
MR. BARTLETT: Yes, May '01, I'm sorry. So they had met, I know, as early as May of 2001. They didn't have --
Q Their first real conversation?
MR. BARTLETT: Yes, I think the most intimate conversation, obviously, in this case. And that's obviously one reason why he wanted to meet with him in person.
Q And the Vice President?
MR. BARTLETT: Oh, well, obviously, the Vice President is one of the key advisors for him. I'm not going to be able to divulge recommendations that any of the top advisors made to the President. But the Vice President is somebody who has been involved in this process from the outset. The President, obviously, appreciates his wise counsel. And he gave wise counsel in this respect, as well. But I'm not going to get into specific recommendations that anybody on the White House staff, or the position the Vice President made.
Q Dan, Monday the President said, I will be interviewing people. Well, he looked like he was done by Monday. Can you explain that?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I'll have to go back and look at that. Like I said, there's follow-up conversations with people, whether it was done by staff, as well. He might have been talking in the collective --
Q Did he plan to interview more people on Monday? Or was he just throwing us off the scent? I mean, he definitely spoke in the future tense -- I will be interviewing people; some of them I don't -- the ones I don't know.
MR. BARTLETT: Well, he definitely interviewed people that he hadn't known. I think -- like I said, these people were having -- there was follow-up conversations being had with these people. And so I think that's what his intention of his comments were.
Q But -- so I will be interviewing people, you mean he was going to call somebody back? Or what do you mean?
MR. BARTLETT: He probably wanted to reserve the judgment to be able to do that if he'd wanted to.
Q At any point in the process was any other person contacted and told that the President wanted them to get the nomination?
MR. BARTLETT: I'm sorry?
Q Who was the first person -- Roberts was the first person that's been contacted by Bush or the White House?
MR. BARTLETT: He's the only person he offered the job to.
Q Dan, I assume that Roberts would be considered a conservative. But how would you categorize him -- middle-of-the-road, conservative? Would he pass muster with the extreme right- wing of the party, including the religious right? And I don't know if you were in jest when you said that you expected easy and sweeping Senate confirmation? Do you believe that to be a fact?
MR. BARTLETT: We think he deserves a thorough look. We think, though, that the United States Senate will come to the same conclusion that President Bush came to, and the same judgment they came to in 2001, in which he was overwhelmingly voted out of committee and then received unanimous consent on the United States Senate floor, which is hard to do in this environment that we're talking about when it comes to judgeships. It only took one Democrat or Republican to hold up his vote, because to get a unanimous consent, it has to be unanimous. And he received a unanimous voice vote for his confirmation to the second high -- people have regarded the D.C. Circuit as the second-highest court in the land, and I just think that speaks to this person's qualifications, credentials, and judgment.
Q What about the conservative aspect?
MR. BARTLETT: Everybody will make their own judgments. We think what you see here is a pick that is consistent with what President Bush has told the American people that he looks for when he makes appointments to the bench, and that is somebody who will interpret the Constitution, not legislate from the bench. This person has a strong track record of doing just that -- like I said, impeccable credentials, is the type of person we believe deserves, obviously, a close look. The United States Senate has a responsibility; they also have an opportunity to rise to the moment and demonstrate that they can do a dignified process that will allow somebody who once has been confirmed by them, to come back before them, answer the questions, and then receive a fair up or down vote.
Q Dan, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, said today that the -- sorry, I lost my point.
MR. BARTLETT: I'm sure other people have --
Q You said there were a couple of things that had to be straightened out before the announcement could be made. What were those? Was either --
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I'm not going to go -- Scott just mentioned the fact that the President asked questions. Well, what -- I'm sure it was just questions he was peppering people about as he made his final decision making, and they were going to get that information to him this morning. Those things happen. But I wouldn't view it anything more than what would be routine questions that would be asked in the final throes of a decision-making process.
Q Can you say if the President raised issues in the interviews about issues that come before the Court, issues like abortion or same-sex marriage, or did he deliberately avoid those?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, Mark, he has been very clear that he was not going to have a litmus test on the issues that you mentioned, that it was important that a judge who was going -- potentially going to have to be ruling on those very issues to not be opining on them before hand. That's one thing the President has been proud about is that he has not imposed a litmus test and we would hope that others would do the same.
Obviously, in a confirmation process, people can ask any question they want, but I think as Justice Ginsberg and others have proven, the appropriate action for them to take is to not answer those type of questions. And, as I said, the President doesn't have a litmus test.
Q Dan, did the timing of this announcement today have anything at all to do with all the intense focus on Karl Rove and the leak investigation?
MR. BARTLETT: I'm glad you -- I omitted discussing that, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk about that. They recess next Friday, the Senate does. If you don't get all your stuff done -- packets of material have to get up there, consultations. We have 16 members of the Judiciary Committee alone, other leadership, other members of the Senate, courtesy visits. You just think about logistically getting the nominee in this tight time period. If we would have waited until the last two days of the month or so, we would have not have been able to officially get his name into the process, which then would allow for hearings on the back end, which is obviously a topic we'll be consulting with the Senate on, when those will take place.
So this was driven by that clock. We were backing up decision-making based on that. We had a window in which the President -- we decided more than two weeks ago, three weeks ago -- in which the President would make a decision. That window was roughly this weekend, this past weekend -- Saturday, Sunday -- through Wednesday of this week. He made the decision today. It falls right in that window that we had set out weeks before. And it's to make sure that as we -- we have a responsibility just as the Senate has a responsibility. The Senate has responsibility to do a fair hearing in a judicious way, in a timely way to make sure they can -- with October. For them to be able to do that, we had to do our job to getting the candidate up there, and that's why that was the only consideration -- the only consideration when choosing Judge Roberts to be his nominee.
Q Dan, what did you say -- just to be clear, did you say that he interviewed women? Does that mean more than one of the five people was a woman?
MR. BARTLETT: Again, I'm not going to break down the candidates. What I will just point to is the fact that he did. There has -- the interviews represented people from all walks of life. As the President said himself, there's some people that he didn't necessarily need personally to interview them because he already knew them. So there was a mix of both people who were on the final list, who were getting the most extensive interest of the President, that clearly represented people from all walks of life.
Q Dan, can you tell us the President's thinking on ignoring his wife's advice? (Laughter.)
Q He's in trouble, right? (Laughter.)
MR. BARTLETT: Absolutely not. Mrs. Bush is spending time with the nominee right now. And she shares the President's view that he is extremely qualified.
Q Is there a sofa bed in the Oval Office? (Laughter.)
Q Did the President have any age threshold? Judge Roberts is only 50. Some had said that perhaps the President would pick someone on the younger end. How did that play into it?
MR. BARTLETT: I don't think he had -- my understanding is the candidates, the 11, and those even -- the shorter -- there was a pretty good range when it came to age. It's more about qualifications. And despite only being 50, there was few attorneys in America who had had more extensive experience before the United States Supreme Court, as many cases that he had actually argued before the Supreme Court, had clerked in the Supreme Court, had worked at the Justice Department, in the Solicitor General's Office; had worked in the Counsel's Office here at the White House under the Reagan Administration, as somebody at such a young age but had just unbelievable experience and credentials made the President comfortable with the fact that he was only 50 years old. That's about --
Q But in terms of if he has a good, long life, one would hope, that he'll be on the court for a long time in terms of the President's legacy and in trying to shape the Court?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, you want somebody who can do the job, and you want somebody who can execute the job faithfully for as long as they so choose. It's a lifetime appointment. He recognizes that, and hopes that upon confirmation, if the Senate decides to follow in his judgment that he's qualified, that he hopes he can serve as long as possible.
Q Dan, the President said he was --
MR. BARTLETT: Okay, you then you.
Q Thank you. The President said he was going to take his time. But now you're saying that you wanted to hurry the pace along because you didn't want to get caught in a logjam on the Hill. Which one is it? I mean, did the President feel a little hurried because of the situation?
MR. BARTLETT: Actually, no. If you look at the fact -- first of all, you have to go back to what Scott talked about. It was that this process didn't start when Justice O'Connor decided to step down. We had to be contingency planning since the first day we took office. And the list was kind of called an "evergreen list." It always was morphing. It was -- you know, names were coming on and off. Some would get different scrutiny in different periods. Judge Gonzales nurtured that list and then Harriet Miers and, you know -- so this process moved at a deliberative pace, but very much in the comfort range for the President to do his due diligence when he -- after O'Connor stepped down, or announced her intention to step down, it gave him the opportunity to really dig in to the details.
But one thing that was expressed throughout this process was, first and foremost, it's important that he feel comfortable with the decision that he makes. And we felt like there was a window there that gave him plenty of time to be deliberative, to do his research, to do -- to seek counsel, do the interviews. He did that in a way that was judicious, but at the same time, we are very much in the comfort zone for the Senate. If you look at recent precedent for Ginsberg and others, the 70-some-odd day time range, that they have plenty of time to do their due diligence, have the scrutiny that the hearings bring, but also have a fair vote -- up or down.
So it -- I think it's a win-win, because the President had time to do his job, and now the Senate has time to do theirs.
Q Now you all --
MR. BARTLETT: Now, if we would have waited too long, as the President has said, then you put -- but the President didn't feel rushed whatsoever.
Q Now you also said of the nominees -- well, the potential nominees, that the President wanted a cross section of America. With Roberts possibly being confirmed, do you think the Supreme Court represents a cross section of America?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, obviously there still represent -- there is representation of -- that does represent a lot of America on the Supreme Court. And, as I said, and the President has showed in all his judicial appointments, that he does reach out to people from all walks of life when it comes to finding people to serve on the bench. And that will always be his standard.
And in this case, he did so. He looked at it very closely. At the end of the day, he found one person he felt that set himself apart from the rest of the field when it comes to the type of qualities he was looking for, the credentials, the qualifications, the experience. And that's what guided him in this decision.
Q What did Judge Roberts say when the President offered him the job? And also, to what extent did the President go back and read decisions?
MR. BARTLETT: Obviously, he was -- he accepted. I don't have the exact verbatim of what he said. We can --
Q Was he surprised?
MR. BARTLETT: Was he surprised? I think -- I can't speak on behalf of him. I'll try to find out. But this process was not -- I mean, he had been through -- he had met with members of the staff weeks ago. You know, there was a whole process going on here. He's probably just glad the process was over and obviously liked the outcome of it, but he was elated, he was -- and humbled to have the honor of even being considered. And obviously, he looks forward to having his conversations with the United States Senate.
Q And as far as the decisions, did he read a lot of the Judge's decisions?
MR. BARTLETT: He took -- he had a big packet of material. He looked extensively into his professional background when it comes to things he had worked on, both in government, as well as in the private practice. He looked extensively into his personal background, as well.
So all those "i's" were dotted and "t's" crossed by the President himself as he looked at the information he wanted. And it helped educate him on what the kind of questions he wanted to ask him, as well, as far as his experience as a Solicitor General, his experience as a private litigator, his experience as -- both probably in his legal training, as well. So he definitely did his homework before -- before the interview.
Q Just to clarify, the list of 11 people that the President took to Denmark that Scott said was fluid, was it just a reduction in numbers, or at that point, were names dropped and others added on to it?
MR. BARTLETT: I think it's -- well, and some, probably a little bit of both, reduced, as well as, you know -- I'm sure -- you know, because there was an extensive consultation, and I'm sure some suggestions came up. We probably ran those traps on those people that may have been suggested, as well. So there was never an iron-clad, this is the only people you can consider. And he -- it's not as if he went into lock-down mode and didn't want to hear ideas. He was eager.
Q Were the five people that he interviewed on that original list of 11?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, again, I don't know if I can go into as much detail about that, but the five people were all very strong candidates, qualified candidates, but Judge Roberts stood apart.
Q Another point of clarification. So earlier when you said that there were women on the final list of five that were interviewed, you did not mean to say there were women that were interviewed?
MR. BARTLETT: I'm saying that there were, in the final analysis, the final list of people, both who he interviewed and who he was considering who he didn't require to be interviewed, that there were women included.
Q Did Harriet handle most of the vetting herself of Judge Roberts?
MR. BARTLETT: She has a team of people who helped her here and at the Justice Department. She sat in all the interviews with the President.
Q For all the candidates, right?
MR. BARTLETT: For all the candidate --
Q For all five that were interviewed?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, the personal ones, but she obviously was shepherding the broader list, as well.
Q Would you give us a sense of what some of the people have said in reaction when the President told them who the nominee is?
MR. BARTLETT: Some of the people?
Q Some -- members of the Senate, even four members of the Senate who --
MR. BARTLETT: Well, I haven't -- we've -- literally, because we rushed in here. He was over at the Residence making the calls. We haven't gotten feedback on the calls just yet.
Q And as you -- as you look forward toward -- you're insisting that you want a smooth confirmation process, but you know that there will be a lot of activity on both sides. What kind of advice are you giving him? And what kind of involvement will the White House have with special interest groups, maybe encouraging them not to be as involved as they suggest they will be?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, we've -- Judge Roberts is honored to have the help of former Senator Fred Thompson, who will help advising him personally through the process, as will our legislative affairs staff, who will be helping him, giving him counsel on how to do this process. He's been through it on a much smaller scale at the D.C. Circuit level. There will be -- as the President said, there will be -- there are groups on both sides that are going to be involved in this, he hopes. He calls on the Senate, he calls on everybody involved in this process to rise to the occasion, to have a dignified debate, to have a civil debate. Let's discuss the substance, and let's -- and not be trafficking in partisan attacks or ideological attacks that aren't grounded in fact.
And this gives an opportunity -- like I said, there is a precedent with the last two Supreme Court Justices, where you have somebody like Justice Ginsberg, for example, who represented the ACLU, somebody who has had deep philosophical differences with many members of the United States Senate, Republican members of the Senate, yet they set aside those differences and voted for her overwhelmingly. And I think that shows that there is a way forward, there is a way to do this. And we think that Judge Roberts fits the bill when it comes to the type of person that America can be proud of when it comes to serving on the bench.
Q You had talked --
MR. BARTLETT: Two more questions.
Q You had talked about how there was extensive consultation. Do you have any sense, though, if out of their consultations, there is consensus?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, we've consulted with more than 70. Getting consensus in the United States Senate, as you see, is tough. But I will say that we believe that --
Q Finish that sentence. (Laughter.)
MR. BARTLETT: We believe that -- we believe that the consultation process did help shape the President's view on who to pick, that both -- his name did come up -- both from Republicans and Democrats, at times. I'm not going to get into who said what. That's confidential advice. But broadly, I think it's safe to say that both members -- Republican members and Democrat members of the Senate had mentioned his name. He is the type of person when you continue to hear people to say, pick somebody who is qualified, who has the credentials to be on the bench. No question about it that Judge Roberts fits that bill.
Q -- those 70 calls, though, do you think that this pick now represents consensus?
MR. BARTLETT: I'm not going to start doing vote counting here on the night of the announcement. I think -- let's let the process move forward, and I think you'll see one in that -- like I said, that with his resume and with his character and qualities deserves the support of a broad spectrum of the United States Senate.
Q Was Judge Gonzales one of the candidates?
MR. BARTLETT: Again, I don't think it would be fair to the people who were not chosen to go into who was and who wasn't a pick, so I'll just leave it at that.
Last question. Cooper you're last.
Q Dan, can I just quickly follow up on what Ed was asking earlier? Before the interviewing got to the President's stage, which members of the staff other than Harriet, for instance, the Vice President, were involved in screening, talking, meeting personally with the candidates? And then also could you just comment on whether the vacancy being O'Connor's seat changed the President's thinking about this process in any way?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, there are -- to first answer your question, I'm just not going to be able to go into the internal workings of the nominee -- there was a group of advisers that the President has relied upon throughout this process when it comes to nominations. And they were involved in this process. But I'm not going to start going down the list of who was in and who was out of these meetings.
Q Could you say if Vice President Cheney met with Mr. Roberts prior to the President meeting with him?
MR. BARTLETT: He's been -- I'm not going to -- like I said, but safe to say the Vice President has been very involved in this process from the outset. I mean, and the President is always appreciative of his participation and his advice. And the other question was the --
Q About -- the O'Connor seat.
MR. BARTLETT: Right. Some would say there are different qualities that you're looking for in a Chief Justice over a Justice. But I must say that the list didn't change that much, because as I said previously, the President, from the outset, said he wanted a -- people say, oh, are you now going to look for a woman, for example, because it was O'Connor. Well, the President was already looking regardless of which seat, whether it was the chief seat or others. He charged us from the outset to make sure -- he was like when I -- when you give me the list to consider, it better represent America. And that was something that he charged to his staff early in the administration, so that was regardless of the position.
But he has to look at this, as I have this opening, and I have to look and see who is the best person, today, that I can find to serve in that post. And the President believes Judge Roberts is the person.
Cooper, last question.
Q The "evergreen list," did you start with a list and then winnow it down to 11? Was it constantly rolling, or was there a day one list?
MR. BARTLETT: Oh, I'm sure it's very big. Oh, I think from '01 to now, I'm sure the list probably got significantly larger than 11 people.
Q So 11 is a distillation of the original evergreen?
MR. BARTLETT: Oh, yes. You cast a wide, wide, wide net early on, and then you winnow it down, and then obviously, when you get a point where you're actually handing names over to the President, obviously, that's going to be a winnowing-down effect. So that's where we are.
END 8:35 P.M. EDT