President Bush Blasts Senate's 'Search and Destroy' Judicial Review

UPDATED: President Bush spoke to the Federalist Society on Thursday, complaining that “judicial lawlessness” threatens democracy and must be stopped.

According to a White House release, the president says that too many people interpret the Senate’s advise-and-consent role in federal judiciary confirmations to mean “search and destroy.”

The president is among many high-profile speakers, including several U.S. Supreme Court justices, who have or will appear before the Federalist Society, which is celebrating its 25th year at a convention in Washington, D.C.

To applause, the president said, “Members of the Federalist Society believe in a simple proposition: Our written Constitution means what it says. One would not call that a radical statement—I certainly don’t see how holding such a commonsense view can be considered controversial. I share your devotion to the Constitution—and I’m proud to be standing with you tonight.”

The president later complained that “activist judges” are a threat to the constitutional balance of government. He added that judges must resist the temptation to encroach on the powers that the Constitution accords to others.

Bush said that for the judiciary, “resisting this temptation is particularly important, because it’s the only branch that is unelected and whose officers serve for life. Unfortunately, some judges give in to temptation and make law instead of interpreting. Such judicial lawlessness is a threat to our democracy—and it needs to stop.”

Also Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the meeting, similarly criticizing the confirmation process, the Associated Press notes.

“We’re doing great damage. I fear how much damage we will do to our judiciary over time,” Thomas is quoted saying. His nomination was nearly derailed ion 1991. Thomas told the crowd that Justice Byron White once told him that only 10 days elapsed between White’s nomination by President Kennedy and his confirmation in 1962. “What are we doing that’s improved the system we had in place for 200 years … I daresay nothing.”

Other coverage:

Thomas Addresses Federalist Society (The BLT)

Bush to take aim at judicial confirmation process (The Hill)

Bush: Confirmation Process Needs Reform (UPI)

The Federalist Society Will Be Partying Like Rock Stars (WSJ Law Blog)

Updated at 10:30 p.m., CST.

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