weeks ago, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) demanded that President
George Bush apologize to the Red
nearly killing 24 of our servicemen and servicewoman, for subsequently
imprisoning them against their will, and stealing our airplane and
most of its state secrets. The Chinese Communists threaten our ally,
Taiwan, and even threaten our country by perfecting the distance
and accuracy of their nuclear missiles — thanks in part to the generosity
of the Clinton administration. Still, none of this bothers Feinstein.
Indeed, in the face of this, not to mention Red China's abysmal
human-rights record — which has been condemned by two of the most
cherished liberal institutions, i.e., our own State Department and
Amnesty International — Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, has made
a small fortune investing millions of dollars with the mainland
background, it's difficult to stomach Feinstein's criticism of California
Congressman Chris Cox, who she contends is too conservative to sit
on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Of course, Cox is a mainstream
conservative. There's nothing extreme or odd about the man. He's
an outstanding lawyer who once served in the White House Counsel's
Office under President Ronald Reagan.
So, what exactly
does Feinstein find so offensive about Cox? Is it his strict adherence
to the original intent of the framers who authored the United States
Constitution, such as James Madison? Is it his respect for liberty
and order, which sit at the core of our republic? Is it his belief
in judicial restraint and the limits of judicial power? Is it his
faith in the will of the American people? Or was it his investigation
into Red China's attempts, some successful, in violating our national
far more accommodating of Red China's brutal regime than of a conservative
Republican who is both decent and distinguished.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.). Somebody needs to tell this man that
he's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not a participant
in the Army-McCarthy hearings. Durbin speaks of the Federalist Society
and its 25,000 members as if he were chasing Communists. But, then
again, Durbin doesn't chase Communists, just federalists.
exchange on May 9th between Durbin and Georgetown Law Professor
Viet Dinh. Keep in mind that Dinh immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam
as a young child. He's a wonderful example of a person living the
American dream. President George Bush nominated Dinh to be Asst.
Attorney General for the Office of Policy Development at the U.S.
Department of Justice.
DURBIN: Thank you.
Dinh, I'm glad that we had a chance to get together, and I want
a follow up on one aspect of our conversation concerning the important
job which you are seeking relative to judicial appointments. And
as I mentioned to you at our meeting — and I'm sure it comes as
no surprise — this is an item of great interest.
As I said
to you, many of us feel that the outcome of the presidential election
in November at least raised some question as to whether the president
has a mandate to make significant changes in the judiciary that
would have an impact on values and decisions and precedents which
have been in place for many decades.
You are a
member of the Federalist Society. We find it curious on our side
of the aisle that President Bush has said that he no longer wants
to rely on the American Bar Association to do a background check
on perspective judges. This was a tradition that started in a
radical era of American politics known as the Eisenhower presidency
when President Eisenhower thought it was reasonable — and I do,
too, incidentally — that the largest bar association in America
at least comment on the worthiness of nominees for the federal
describe for us your involvement with the Federalist Society and
what you believe this group stands for?
Senator, first of all, thank you very much for taking the time
out of your very busy schedule to meet with me the other day.
It was a very fruitful discussion. I very much appreciate the
I am a member
of the Federalist Society, and I do not know, quite frankly, what
it all stands for. As you asked me during our meeting whether
I've read their statement of principles — no, I have not. What
I know — what it stands for me, why I joined the society — when
I first joined the faculty of Georgetown Law Center is that it
is a forum for discussion of law and public policy from both sides.
And a very number of a very prominent debates have — and very
fruitful debates — have been carried out under the auspices of
the Federalist Society throughout the law schools and the bars
of this nation. That's why I believe that it serves a very useful
function, not only in the discussion of law and public policy
in the public debate, but also in the pedagogical mission of our
law schools, as a number of others organizations do.
I do hope
that, given my rather voluminous paper trail of publications and
public speeches, that my candidacy and what I think will be judged
upon those statements and publications rather than — not on any
one particular membership.
I recall your answer and you've repeated it here for the sake
of the committee. And I find it interesting that if you are looking
for a forum for debate, the Federalist Society is a comfortable
forum, but apparently the ACLU is not, for a discussion. You've
never joined an organization like the ACLU, have you?
No, I have not, Senator, because I do not join organizations that
— with the exception of the American Bar Association through my
group membership as a faculty member of the Georgetown Law faculty
— that take public positions and adopt policy statements. And
to my knowledge, the Federalist Society does not take public positions,
adopt policy statements, file amicus briefs or the like. It is
simply a forum for discussion, as I am also a member of the Council
on Foreign Relations, which is a forum for public discussion on
foreign policy issues in which I am also interested.
So it is your belief that the Federalist Society does not have
a philosophy — a stated philosophy when it comes to, for example,
the future course of the Supreme Court?
No, I do not think it does have a stated philosophy, to my knowledge.
It may very well have. I just simply do not know. I know that
the society has a very diverse membership of people who think
very equivocally about these issues, and I know that I've gotten
many, many — into many, many disagreements with members of the
Federalist society on these kinds of issues. So I do not think
that a official policy would be possible even if desirable.
DURBIN: Where would you put the Federalist Society
on the political spectrum?
DINH: You know, I simply do not know. I know that there
are press reports that have attempted to put it in a political
spectrum with respect to other organizations. I myself have —
in my personal and professional life, have been very hesitant
to characterize anybody or any group according to labels, simply
because I eschew such labels myself. So I — it would not be appropriate
for me to do so for others.
DURBIN: And you are not familiar — or are you familiar,
rather, with the term, "the court in exile — the Constitution
DINH: No, sir, I am not.
me say that what I've read — and I'm not an expert nor am I member
of the Federalist Society — they do have a very conservative philosophy.
I don't think they are a debating society. I think they have an
agenda. And it troubles some of us to believe that the American
Bar Association, which has been characterized as liberal by the
conservatives and conservative by the liberals over the course
of its history, is being cast aside by the White House now when
it comes to the judicial process. And instead we find that many
people who are associated with the Federalist Society are now
seeking prominent positions in the administration of justice.
I don't think it's a coincidence. I think it is a conscious decision
to move us toward a path that, frankly, many of us think needs
to be questioned, and at least publicized.
hope that — if you are indeed confirmed, that you do not become
an agent of any political agenda. You have an extraordinary personal
family history. It is just exceptional, and I think all of us
are in awe of what you and your family has achieved in overcoming
great odds. I think that you can make a great contribution to
public service and I hope that you will. But I hope that it doesn't
become an effort for a political clearinghouse for only those
who happened to hew to that line to be considered as possible
nominees to the federal bench. I think we do need diversity and
moderation and the kind of excellence and integrity which both
parties should seek to make part of their nomination process.
Luckily, Dinh didn't give up the Federalist Society's secret handshake
during this sickening grilling by Durbin. But even Durbin's not
the most despicable of character assassins on the Senate Judiciary
Committee. That honor, at least for this week, goes to the committee's
Ranking Democrat, Patrick Leahy.
his skills as a leading liberal hit man during the confirmation
hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork and Clarence
Thomas. These hearings were two of the most deplorable events in
the history of the U.S. Senate, and Leahy was at the center of both
taking aim at Theodore Olson's back. Olson, of course, is among
the most brilliant and honorable lawyers in the country. Just ask
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe and trial lawyer David Boies,
both of whom suffered the worst defeats of their careers as a result
of Olson's representation of George Bush before the U.S. Supreme
Court. And it's precisely for this reason that Leahy seeks to derail
President Bush's nomination of Olson to be Solicitor General. There
has never been a more qualified nominee for this position.
Leahy is up
to his usual mud-ball tactics. With the help of a small cabal of
left-wing, agenda-driven writers, Leahy's trying to resurrect a
fictional conspiracy, the so-called "Arkansas Project,"
promoted a few years ago by Bill Clinton's supporters in an attempt
to discredit then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. This topic
is thoroughly addressed in David Limbaugh's best-selling book, Absolute
In short, the
Arkansas Project was nothing more than an investigation by The
American Spectator magazine into certain of Clinton's activities
back in Arkansas. The conspiracy went something like this: the Sarah
Scaife Foundation contributed money to The American Spectator,
including the Arkansas Project; the foundation also gave money to
Pepperdine University, which at some point offered a top job to
Ken Starr; and David Hale, Starr's key witness against Clinton in
a trial related to the Whitewater scandal, received payments through
the Arkansas Project to influence his testimony against Clinton.
the Scaife Foundation did contribute to The American Spectator,
as it contributed to many conservative organizations (including
Landmark Legal Foundation) and many non-ideological causes as well.
But the foundation did not give money to Pepperdine to hire Starr.
Those funds were pledged to Pepperdine before the university had
considered hiring anyone for the post it eventually offered Starr.
The allegation that Hale received payments to influence his testimony
was made by a lady who was tarot-card reader and former girlfriend
of Parker Dozhier — a local researcher for the Arkansas project.
Dozhier claimed that his former girlfriend was a loyal Democrat
who was angry with him.
In any event,
this entire preposterous story was investigated by a special counsel,
former Justice Department official Michael Shaheen. Shaheen impaneled
a grand jury, investigated for many months, and found the charges
unsubstantiated and untrue. There was no wrongdoing and there was
nothing to the trumped up allegations.
What does Olson
have to do with any of this? Well, David Brock, a born-again Clinton
apologist who is committed to tarnishing the careers and reputations
of his former colleagues at The American Spectator, has apparently
informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that Olson had a more significant
role in the Arkansas Project than Olson has admitted. There's no
dispute that Olson provided legal input to The American Spectator
from time-to-time. But Brock claims that Olson may have actually
talked about the Arkansas Project at a dinner! This is supposed
to prove Olson's intimate knowledge of the project, which knowledge
Olson has denied to his Senate inquisitors. Moreover, The American
Spectator's founder, Bob Tyrrell, corroborates Olson's position.
Not so coincidentally,
Brock, who, of late, has had great difficultly convincing the public
to buy his books, has written a book this time claiming to expose,
among other things, Olson's true role in the Arkansas Project. Clinton
defenders like Leahy used to dismiss such allegations from would-be
authors as motivated by money. And Brock hopes to make lots and
lots of money from his soon-to-be published book, at Olson's expense.
Now comes Leahy,
always at the ready to exploit personal vendettas and gossip, and
drag the Senate and outstanding people like Bork, Thomas, and Olson
into his sewer.
sits in judgment of others, it's reasonable to ask what kind of
judgment Leahy has. As reported by Newsmax.com's Carl Limbacher,
in 1987 Leahy resigned from the Senate Intelligence Committee after
a six-month internal investigation of his leaks of confidential
committee information. Apparently Leahy gave an NBC reporter access
to confidential committee information relating to the so-called
There has never
been a full public airing of Leahy's conduct. But, who cares, right?
After all, Leahy's not a conservative, he's not a member of the
Federalist Society, and he never attended a dinner at which the
Arkansas Project may have been discussed. There was a time, however,
when the U.S. Senate would censure a politician like Leahy. But,
then again, we can't expect much from a Senate that two years ago
didn't even have the courage to uphold the U.S. Constitution against
a law-breaking president.