On Tuesday Rudy Giuliani announced a gold plated line up of attorneys and legal scholars as members of his Justice Advisory Committee. HUMAN EVENTS, as part of our continuing series of interviews with key advisors to GOP candidates, interviewed two of these: former Solicitor General of the United States Ted Olson who will serve as Chairman of the Committee and Steven G. Calabresi, who co-founded The Federalist Society and serves as the Chairman of the Society’s Board of Directors.
Olson was Solicitor General of the United States from 2001-2004. From 1981-1984 he was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice. Olson is one of the nation’s premier appellate and United States Supreme Court advocates. He has argued more than 40 cases in the Supreme Court, prevailing in 75% of those.
Calabresi served in the Reagan and first Bush Administrations from 1985 to 1990 and advised Attorney General Edwin Meese III. He has been the George C. Dix Professor of Constitutional Law at Northwestern Law School for 1998-2000 and for 2004-2007. In 1982 he co-founded the Federalist Society, the premier conservative legal organization in the country.
Why did they and the long list of attorneys choose to support Giuliani?
Olson begins by saying the list has some of the “finest lawyers” in the country and there are “more to come.” He lists a variety of reason why he and others chose Giuliani including “leadership,” showing he “can run New York and had a vision of New York” and the belief — based on personal experience — that “he is a real person and not a phony.”
Olson cites Giuliani’s experience as the #3 man in the Reagan Justice Department and his years as “the most famous prosecutor in America” at the US Attorneys Office in the Southern District of New York.
Calabresi list two non-judicial issues — the war on terror and the economy — as well as the belief that Giuliani because of his record and legal training will select the judges that will decide the direction of the Supreme Court for decades. Reminding voters that in 2008, six of the nine Justices will be over 70 years old, he says that the “whole 25 year campaign to try to restore the Court will hinge on who wins in 2008” and the judges that president appoints. Both Olson and Calabresi point to Giuliani’s success in reducing crime as further reason to support him.
Given the current flap over the Bush administration’s firing of nine U.S. attorneys how would Giuliani handle selection of U.S. attorneys?
Olson remarks that this function — recommendation of US attorneys — was one of his key responsibilities in the Reagan administration. Olson points to the type of people he selected like Larry Thompson, later Deputy Attorney General of the United States and now PepsiCo general counsel another supporter. He says Giuliani selected “high quality people and then gave them independence and freedom to make prosecutorial decisions.” He notes that the Department of Justice nevertheless plays a key role in overseeing these prosecutors and ensuring through “centralized leadership” that the laws are consistently enforced.
How does Giuliani view tort reform?
Olson promises that in the days and weeks ahead the campaign will put out detailed positions on legal issues including tort reform but stresses that “it is exceedingly important for the rule of law and the consistency of the legal system” that abusive lawsuits and excessive verdicts be curbed. According to Olson, Giuliani sees this as both a “very important” legal as well as economic issue in that abusive lawsuits “hurt our productivity and force products off the market” and also lead to a proliferation of “silly labels” on products which customers ignore.
What assurance would conservatives have that Giuliani would select committed conservatives who won’t change their stripes over time?
Olson says that Giuliani is uniquely qualified by experience and legal training to find the best judges. He says: “Rudy helped select good judges. He is a student of the law, a student of judicial philosophy.” Olson cautions that “no one should predict” how a judge would vote on a key issue but in his opinion Giuliani, of all the candidates, is “the most qualified to do this right.”
When asked why social conservatives cannot get a “guarantee” that Giuliani will ensure Roe v. Wade is overturned Calabresi explains that “what we have been campaigning for 25 years is for judges to be deciding cases according to the law and not making policy makers.” He cautions that if we ask prospective judges about policy on one matter we will be prevented in the goal of ensuring that judges decide cases without regard to specific policy objectives. He does however offer comfort to conservatives, noting that Giuliani has said he most admires Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Scalia and that Calabresi would be “thrilled with another.” He does point out that even these conservative icons don’t always agree. Rather than predict how a specific judge will rule in a certain case, presidents do best, he says, when they select “extremely bright, talented lawyers and people committed to judging rather than making policy.”
How does Giuliani view the principle of federalism?
Olson says that Giuliani has a strong belief in “individual freedom” but also believes that “the Constitution dispenses power to state and local governments.” Calabresi is likewise convinced that Giuliani “believes in limited government and a limited role for the national government.” Olson says voters should consider that Giuliani, as Mayor of New York, learned to “respect decision making at the local level.” Calabresi likewise argues that after 8 years as Mayor, Giuliani “appreciates the difficulties mayors and governors mave in doing their job and that it is hard to have issues decided by a centralized group of bureaucrats.”