WASHINGTON — Emerging from weeks of political hibernation, President Bush's longtime advisor Karl Rove told the right-wing Federalist Society that rulings by liberal judges will “provoke a strong counter-reaction” through laws or constitutional amendments to limit the judiciary.
Rove addressed the group Thursday evening at the Federalist Society's annual meeting in Washington.
“The public will reclaim its rights as a sovereign people,” Rove predicted, and “at the end of the day the views of the Founders will prevail.”
Rove was greeted by a standing ovation, but his speech lacked drama -- it was instead a meat-and-potatoes explanation of the conservative view of the judiciary.
Rove has been under a shadow for more than a week as some in Washington expected — and others hoped — that he might be indicted for disclosing classified information that Valerie Plame, the wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. But only I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has so far been indicted in that case.
Rove made no reference to the Libby case in his 25-minute address Thursday.
Rove denounced recent examples of what he saw as liberal judicial activism such as the 9th Circuit court of appeals declaring that the recitation of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was unconstitutional
He also denounced last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roper v. Simmons in which five justices ruled that convicted murderers under the age of 18 could not be put to death. Rove noted that 20 states allowed capital punishment for those under 18 and argued that the high court was depriving those states of the right to self-government.
The Federalist Society includes influential figures on the Right, such as former solicitor general Ted Olson and unsuccessful 1986 Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.
President George W. Bush, his father the 41st president, and President Reagan have drafted several of their roster of conservative judicial nominees from Federalist Society ranks.
Rove entered Washington’s Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in the company of Leonard Leo, the vice president of the Federalist Society who has spent seven of the past 12 months on leave from his Federalist Society job to help push the confirmations of first Chief Justice John Roberts and then White House counsel Harriet Miers through the Senate. During the final days of the Miers battle – regarded by some Federalistas as a sad and freakish episode – Leo looked frazzled by worry.
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Rove briefly mentioned Miers in this speech; she was not a favorite of many Federalist Society members but they applauded politely when Rove mentioned her.
Rove noted that more than 200 Bush judicial nominees have been confirmed since 2001, “not easily not quickly but confirmed after a hard effort.”
He confidently predicted that soon Chief Justice John Roberts will be joined by “a proud member of the Federalist Society,” Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
As for those Bush judicial nominees still awaiting Senate confirmation, Rove said, “Any of you nominees, just remember, you wanted the job.”
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