Bush Library Emphasizes Fair, Impartial Judges

The Bush Library’s “Separating Powers” Section Quotes Bush: Judges Must “Not Legislate From The Bench.” The following photograph is from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum:


[George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum Display, photo taken May 3-4, 2013]

Bush Appointed Ideologically Conservative Judges, Pushing Judiciary to the Right

Bush Escalated His Republican Predecessors’ Practice Of Evaluating Judicial Candidates’ Adherence To Conservative Philosophies. According to the New York Times, “The debate intensified when Reagan came to power. His administration scrapped the ad hoc, patronage-style process previous presidents had used and began vetting potential nominees to find those who shared its philosophy. After the first George Bush became president in 1989, his legal team continued that approach. His son’s 2000 victory revived those vetting practices and — with the participation of Mr. Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove — escalated them.” [New York Times, 10/29/08]

Study: Bush Prioritized Ideology Over Diversity In Judicial Appointments. According to Oregon State University, “The judicial appointments of former president George W. Bush suggests that his motivation for appointing nontraditional judges was driven more by ideology and strategy than concerns for diversity, a new analysis shows. The examination of all the federal judicial appointments over the two terms of the Bush presidency show that while he did make a number of diverse appointments, especially with Hispanics, overall the federal courts did not gain in the number of minority judges during Bush’s tenure. […] In contrast, the study shows that Clinton often stressed diversity and representation over ideology. He often picked moderate and conservative minority and female judges even though they did not necessarily reflect his own political philosophies.” [Oregon State University, 6/25/09]

Bush Made Push For Conservative Judges A Priority. According to the Los Angeles Times, “While Republicans find themselves somewhat divided heading into the election year, Bush is widely praised for his record of pressing for conservative judges. ‘From Day One, President Bush made the judiciary a top priority, and he fought very hard for his nominees,’ said Washington attorney Bradford Berenson, who worked in the White House counsel’s office in Bush’s first term. ‘He was less willing to compromise than President Clinton. As a result, in raw numbers, he may end with somewhat fewer judges than Clinton had.’” [Los Angeles Times, 1/2/08]

When Bush Left Office, Republican Appointees Held 60 Percent Of Appeals Courts Seats. According to the Los Angeles Times, “After nearly seven years in the White House, President Bush has named 294 judges to the federal courts, giving Republican appointees a solid majority of the seats, including a 60%-to-40% edge over Democrats on the influential U.S. appeals courts. […] Among the 12 regional appeals courts, all but one are closely split or have a Republican majority.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/2/08]

Bush’s Appointments Will Affect Judicial System For Decades. According to the New York Times, “[Bush] noted that he had appointed more than a third of the federal judiciary expected to be serving when he leaves office, a lifetime-tenured force that will influence society for decades and that represents one of his most enduring accomplishments. While a two-term president typically leaves his stamp on the appeals courts — Bill Clinton appointed 65 judges, Mr. Bush 61 — Mr. Bush’s judges were among the youngest ever nominated and are poised to have an unusually strong impact.” [New York Times, 10/29/08]

Bush Removed American Bar Association From Its Role In Screening Judicial Nomination Candidates. According to USA Today, “Within weeks of George W. Bush’s inauguration, he revealed a systematic, aggressive and tightly controlled approach to making lifetime appointments to the federal bench. The new president ejected the American Bar Association from the screening process, ending its half-century role of reviewing candidates’ credentials before a nomination.” [USA Today, 3/14/08]

Study: Bush Appointees “Most Conservative On Record” On Civil Rights. According to the University of Houston, “Judges appointed by President George W. Bush are the most conservative on record when it comes to civil rights and liberties, according to a new study by a political science professor at the University of Houston. Bush judicial appointees are significantly more conservative than even the very conservative voting record of jurists appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. in the realm of civil rights and liberties, said Robert Carp, professor of political science at UH. When it comes to these decisions, the Bush team is a full 5 percentage points more conservative than even the trial judges appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr.” [University of Houston, 2/6/06]

Bush’s District Court Appointees “Particularly Conservative On Civil Liberties Cases.”  According to the Associated Press, “Bush’s district appointees stand out as particularly conservative on civil liberties cases such as abortion, freedom of speech and gay rights, Carp found. On these matters, Bush’s district judgeships were rated 28 percent liberal in Carp’s study. That put them well to the right of jurists appointed by Presidents Nixon, at 38 percent, and Ford, at 40 percent, and slightly to the right of Reagan and the first President Bush, both of whom were rated 32 percent liberal.” [Associated Press, 7/10/05]

Bush, Reagan Appointees Much More Likely To Rule Against Abortion Rights. According to the Associated Press, “And according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, appeals court judges appointed by President Reagan and the two Bushes have been four times more likely to issue ‘anti-choice rulings’ than judges appointed by other presidents.” [Associated Press, 7/10/05]

AP: Bush Appellate Appointees “Make Up A Solidly Conservative Crowd That Tends To Lean Bush’s Way On The Big Issues Of The Day.” According to the Associated Press: “Since Bush’s appellate judges have only gradually taken their seats on benches around the country, and the cases that they draw run the gamut, it’s still early to chart their impact on specific issues. But already it is clear that these judges make up a solidly conservative crowd that tends to lean Bush’s way on the big issues of the day. So far, Bush’s appointees to the appeals court are showing patterns very close to judges of his Republican predecessors in ideologically contested cases, according to law professor Cass Sunstein at the University of Chicago, where the Chicago Judges Project is tracking the federal judiciary.” [Associated Press, 7/10/05]

Alliance For Justice: Bush “Packed The Courts” With “Extremists.” According to the New York Times, “But Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal legal group, said Mr. Bush had ‘packed the courts’ with ‘extremists’ who share an agenda of hostility to regulations and the rights of women, minorities and workers. ‘George W. Bush has made great strides in cementing the ultraconservative hold on the federal courts which began with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, when he set out to impose his agenda on the country through his court appointments,’ Ms. Aron said.” [New York Times, 10/29/08]

Federalist Society Founder: After Bush, Appellate Courts More Aligned With Conservative Ideology Than Ever. According to the New York Times, “David M. McIntosh, a co-founder and vice-chairman of the Federalist Society, said the nation’s appeals courts were now more in line with a conservative judicial ideology than at any other time in memory. ‘The level of thoughtfulness among sitting judges on constitutional theory and the role of judges is higher than certainly any other time in my life,’ said Mr. McIntosh, a former Reagan legal team member and Indiana congressman. ‘For somebody who has spent a lot of my life promoting those ideas, it’s very encouraging to see.’” [New York Times, 10/29/08]

Nearly Half Of Bush’s Appeals Court Judges Are Federalist Society Associates. According to the New York Times, “The White House ended the American Bar Association’s traditional role in evaluating potential nominees’ qualifications. But the administration had other help: the Federalist Society, whose size and influence has rapidly grown since the 1980s. The society does not formally suggest or vet nominees. Rather, through its conferences and publications, it enables lawyers to identify themselves as committed to a conservative judicial ideology, said Steven M. Teles, the author of ‘The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law.’ About 46 percent of Mr. Bush’s appeals court judges are Federalist Society associates, according to an Alliance for Justice review.” [New York Times, 10/29/08]

Bush: “We Need More Judges Like Clarence Thomas And Antonin Scalia.” According to Bush’s prepared remarks, “I said America needed judges who believed that the Constitution means what it says. When asked if I had any idea in mind of the kind of judges I would appoint, I had a ready answer: We need more judges like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.” [Bush Prepared Remarks, 10/7/08]