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Rove: Conservatives 'will win' debate over judges

Rove said Americans are concerned about judges who are "eager to legislate" from the bench.


Supreme Court
Karl Rove
Federalist Society
Crime, Law and Justice

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, told a conservative legal organization Thursday that conservatives are "winning the battle of ideas on almost every front" -- including making huge gains in the fight over the judiciary.

"The outcome of that debate will shape the course of human events," Rove told the Federalist Society.

He added, "We are now seeing the fruits of your good works and the good works of many others."

Rove said the recent addition of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to the highest court, and the nomination of U.S. Circuit Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, should make conservatives "optimistic and hopeful."

"Our arguments will carry the day because the force and logic and wisdom of the Founders, all of them, are on our side," Rove said. "We welcome a vigorous, open and fair-minded and high-minded debate about the purpose and the meaning of the courts in our lives. And we will win that debate."

He said for too long Americans have grown increasingly concerned "about too many judges too ready and eager to legislate from too many benches."

"For decades, the American people have seen decision after decision after decision that strikes them as fundamentally out of touch with our Constitution," Rove said.

He then rattled off a list of several federal decisions that he deemed out of touch with mainstream Americans: A 9th Circuit decision declaring the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional; a federal district court judge dismissing a 10-count indictment against "hard-core pornographers"; and a Supreme Court decision that bars the death penalty for those who committed murder under the age of 18.

Such "judicial imperialism," he said, is leading to the will of the people being "replaced by the personal predilections and political biases of a handful of judges."

"The result is that judicial imperialism has split American society, politicized the courts in a way the Founders never intended," he said. "It has created a sense of disenfranchisement among a very large segment of American society, people who believe issues not addressed by the Constitution should be decided through elections rather than by nine lawyers in robes."

Ultimately, he said, conservatives will "prevail" due to conservative organizations like the Federalist Society.

"The president is grateful for your support, for your tireless efforts on behalf of constitutionalism and, above all, for your dedication to the founding principles of our great country," he said.

Rove did not address the swirling controversy about his possible role in the leak of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame is married to Joe Wilson, a former U.S. diplomat who has charged that the Bush administration hyped intelligence about Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities in order to build the case for Iraq war.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then-Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was indicted on charges of lying and obstruction of justice in the Plame probe. Rove was not indicted, although the prosecutor has said the investigation remains open.

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