President George W. Bush seems to be in legacy-shaping mode. During a speech at the Ashbrook Center in Cincinnati today, he touted his record on appointing conservative federal judges who, he says, do not legislate from the bench.
Noting that one third of current federal jurists are his appointees, Bush said “few issues are more hotly debated or have a more lasting impact on our country” than the appointment and confirmation of federal judges. As of today, the Senate has confirmed 61 Circuit Court judges and 261 District Court judges nominated by Bush, according to the White House.
Topping the list of judicial nominees he’s so proud of were Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., whom Bush called “outstanding judges.” Bush made his comments as Roberts and Alito sat in the Supreme Court building listening to the first oral arguments of the term today.
“Our founders gave the judicial branch enormous power,” Bush said. “It is the only branch of government whose officers are unelected. That means judges on the federal bench must exercise their power prudently – cautiously – you might even say, conservatively. And that means that the selection and confirmation of good judges should be a high priority for every American.”
Although he did not mention presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama in his remarks, Bush made the comments during an appearance in Ohio, a key battle state in next month’s election.
Bush also called on the Senate to vote on his nominees for the remaining 34 judicial vacancies in the federal circuit and district courts – something not likely to happen in the waning days of the bush administration and with a Democratic-controlled Congress.