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Giuliani Woos
Conservatives on Judges

Giuliani Woos
Conservatives on Judges

Presidential contender Rudy Giuliani has been winning over some conservative Republicans by promising to appoint judges in the mold of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and others who might seem likely to limit the reach of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Judges he named while he was mayor of New York City, however, could never be mistaken for Scalia.

Presidential contender Rudy Giuliani has been winning over some conservative Republicans by promising to appoint judges in the mold of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and others who might seem likely to limit the reach of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Judges he named while he was mayor of New York City, however, could never be mistaken for Scalia.

Giuliani's promise has helped overcome his abortion rights support as an issue for conservative voters. After all, the next president can do little about abortion except to name judges who interpret the law more strictly. As a result, some prominent conservatives, including televangelist Pat Robertson, have decided that Giuliani's view of judges matters most.

Giuliani was scheduled to describe his views in a speech Friday to the Federalist Society, a mainstay of the conservative legal movement that includes several members who are advising Giuliani's campaign. One of those, former solicitor general Ted Olson, said in an interview that Giuliani needs to reach out to conservatives and reassure them. He said, ''On the important issues, to the extent those issues are being controlled by judges, he will appoint the kind of people that you would like.''

Giuliani's stance on judges dates to the Reagan administration, Olson said, when both men worked as senior Justice Department officials. Back then, at morning meetings and over sandwiches or pizza in the attorney general's dining room, they talked about how judges should do their jobs, Olson said.

However, years later, when Giuliani was mayor of New York, he appointed far more liberal judges.

Mostly Democrats, his appointees included an abortion rights supporter, gay activists, and a judge who ordered the city to pay for an indigent New Yorker's sex- change operation, among others. Another judge argued that prostitution should be redefined according to the changing cultural and sexual practices of recent decades.

To be sure, Giuliani was limited by the city's system of appointing judges. An advisory committee, controlled by Democrats, submitted candidates from which Giuliani could choose. And Giuliani has noted he was choosing municipal judges who mostly handled criminal cases, not judges who would evaluate matters of constitutional law.

''They hear ordinary criminal cases and civil cases; they're not going to be interpreting the scope of the Bill of Rights or the Establishment Clause or the First Amendment,'' said Northwestern University law professor Steven Calabresi, another Giuliani adviser and Federalist Society member. ''Also, the other people involved in the process of making judges are going to be more liberal.''

Still, rival Republican campaigns were calling attention to his record on city judges earlier this year and could do so again.

Foes also point to Giuliani comments, earlier this year, that there is no guarantee a conservative judge would overturn Roe v. Wade.

''They can look at it and say, 'Wrongly decided 30 years ago; whatever it is, we will overturn it,''' he told CNN in April. ''They can look at it and say, 'It has been the law for this period of time; therefore, we are going to respect the precedent.' Conservatives can come to that conclusion as well. I would leave it up to them. I would not have a litmus test on that.''

Many anti-abortion activists are unmoved by Giuliani's promise to appoint conservative judges.

''Rudy Giuliani has not changed his position -- he is running as a pro-abortion candidate; he's been consistent with that,'' David N. O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, said Tuesday, when the group endorsed Giuliani rival Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee senator.

Not that abortion is a litmus test for Giuliani; he has said judicial nominees should not decide ahead of time on future cases. His job description would seek judges who interpret the law strictly, paying attention to what lawmakers intended.

''Mayor Giuliani is committed to appointing judges who will follow the Constitution and not make up the law,'' said Calabresi.

Also on the society's three-day program: Scalia, fellow justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts. President Bush addressed the group Thursday.

It's an important address for Giuliani, Olson said: ''It is less than a year before the election, less than two months before the primaries. These are people who are activists in the legal profession, they are people that do things, and they are very, very prominent people.'' (Libby Quaid, AP)

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