Chris Matthews v. Nan Aron

Barbara Ledeen of the Senate Republican Conference is circulating a transcript of a Chris Matthews/MSNBC interview with Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice. The Alliance for Justice is a leading organization working with Senators opposing the confirmation of “extremist” judicial nominees.

In this interview, Aron defines “extremist” — and manages to make liberal Chris Matthews, by contrast, look like a conservative.

The following is an excerpt of the interview, with some of the parts I found most noteworthy in bold. I’ve provided a link to entire interview at the beginning and end of the excerpt for those who wish to read it in full context.

MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews Transcript
May 24, 2005

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about — do you believe — let me just go to what I think might be just sort of a paradigm here. If the president were so nominate Associate Justice Antonin Scalia for chief justice, then bring in his attorney general in, who has already passed the Senate muster, for associate justice, would that be an extraordinary nomination?ARON: Based what we’ve read of his record or Alberto Gonzales’ record, I think that there would be extraordinary circumstances. And I certainly think the Senate would filibuster.


MATTHEWS: So, you would ask for a veto? You would ask for a filibuster against that?

ARON: We certainly would.

MATTHEWS: Against Scalia?

ARON: We certainly would. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Scalia was approved by 98-0 to be put on the court. And he served all these years. Why would all of sudden become an extraordinarily bad proposal?

ARON: He has a record on the Supreme Court of extremist, of holding — upholding laws that hurt people, of denying ordinary Americans their rights and protections. I think, if he’s elevated to chief, I think that there would be an outcry, an outcry.

MATTHEWS: OK. He`s extraordinary?

ARON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: How about Clarence Thomas? Is he extraordinary?

ARON: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I think he’s someone on the Supreme Court that doesn’t even believe in…


MATTHEWS: So you would filibuster — is there anyone you can think of who might be picked by the president for the Supreme Court if there’s an opening this summer who doesn’t fit your definition of extraordinarily bad and therefore requiring…

ARON: Sure. I think if — if — if President Bush were to elevate Sandra Day O`Connor, that that nomination wouldn’t constitute extraordinary circumstances. And I think she would probably be confirmed.

MATTHEWS: Or Kennedy? Or Anthony Kennedy?

ARON: I don’t think Kennedy is even is within the running.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

ARON: But I think if — in fact, if he were selected, that he, too, just like Sandra Day O’Connor, might be confirmed.

MATTHEWS: And, if it’s Souter, you would put bells on your feet, right?


ARON: Well, yes.

MATTHEWS: I don’t think that’s likely.

ARON: But I don’t think it’ll happen.

MATTHEWS: So, in other words, you — I`m trying to define what this means.

Well, let me ask you this. You’ve got seven Democrats there who all come from pretty moderate states. I noticed. I was going down the list of Ben Nelson, Nebraska, hardly a left-wing hangout. You’ve got Lieberman from Connecticut, which could be somewhat liberal on this issue of abortion rights. You have got Pryor from Arkansas, Byrd from West Virginia. You`ve got Landrieu from Louisiana. You’ve got Salazar from Colorado, Inouye from Hawaii.

Hawaii and Connecticut are the only really liberal states represented by these deal-makers. Does that concern you, that the Democrats have found a way to avoid dealing with the abortion rights people, have people deal who don’t represent the liberal states?

ARON: No, because I think a nominee will be examined based on his or her entire record. And I think, at the end of the day, if that record is one of extremism, if this candidate…

MATTHEWS: On abortion

ARON: … is against individuals rights…

MATTHEWS: What — what — what — how do you define extremism?

ARON: Well, if there’s a nominee who is tapped for the seat who opposed to Roe vs. Wade, that would constitute…

MATTHEWS: That’s an extremist?

ARON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: But a person who is for Roe v. Wade is not an extremist?

ARON: No, because Roe vs. Wade is great, a landmark precedent, just like Brown vs. Board of Education.

MATTHEWS: But there are three members of the Supreme Court right now who would vote against Roe v. Wade if it was an open question? Are they extremists?

ARON: On that issue, they certainly are. But abortion isn’t…

MATTHEWS: Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist are extremists?

ARON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if Thomas or Scalia were to be elevated to the chief justice position, we at the Alliance For Justice and other organizations around the country…


MATTHEWS: Let me get some legal history here. Roe v. Wade came in, in ’73, right?

GRAY: That’s correct.

MATTHEWS: So, we didn`t have it before then.

GRAY: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, everybody who was on the Supreme Court before ’73 was an extremist, by this definition, because they weren’t Roe v. Wade? They didn’t believe a woman had an inherent right to an abortion.

GRAY: That’s correct.

MATTHEWS: You say that’s true?




MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean by extremist?

ARON: You’ve got a completely different court today than you did in 1973.

MATTHEWS: No, I’m asking a question. You’re saying that, until 1973, the United States Supreme Court was inhabited by extremists, because they didn’t support the woman’s right to choice. They didn’t find in the Constitution this inherent right to privacy, this penumbra of privacy which allows for a woman to make that choice.

ARON: We are looking…

MATTHEWS: They were extremists, therefore?

ARON: We’re looking for individuals who are respectful of people’s individual rights and liberties.

MATTHEWS: … respectful. I’m asking about constitutional questions here.

The transcript continues. You can read it all here.

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