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Dershowitz's Supreme Court predictions -

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(generated from captions) criteria. Today everybody wants to

know how they're going to vote,

particularly on abortion decisions

or death penalty cases or right to

die with dignity cases and litmus

tests are being proposed by both

parties. The Democrats are

parties. The Democrats are remaining silent because they could have

gotten worse. They could have

gotten an extreme right-winger with

long credentials on the right.

Republicans are upset because it's

Republicans are upset because it's a stealth candidate. They really

don't know much about this woman

don't know much about this woman and they're saying, "We want somebody

who's more conservative. " When

Roberts the previous nominee was

being pinted they said, "We don't

care about ideology and the

Democrats shouldn't care about

ideology, we only care about

competence. " The problem with

competence. " The problem with this woman is she doesn't have a lot of

competence, she doesn't have any

real track record the way Roberts

did of high competence and she's

"untrustworthy as a right-winger"

"untrustworthy as a right-winger", so some Republicans are very

nervous. When was the last time

that somebody with so few actual

qualifications was appointed to the

Supreme Court? Well actually I

Supreme Court? Well actually I think you could probably say that Sandra

Day O Connor didn't have much in

Day O Connor didn't have much in the way of credentials. She had been a

politician in Arizona. She was

highly rated as a law student many

years earlier at Stamford law

years earlier at Stamford law school top of her class, whereas Harry

top of her class, whereas Harry Reid was not the top of her class and

went to southern Methodist, which

was not an elite school. I guess

Clarence Thomas who was appointed

Clarence Thomas who was appointed by Mr Bush Senior, President Bush

Senior, he went to Yale law school

to be sure but he wasn't highly

qualified to be on the bench,

either. So there's been a

traditional of cronyism on the

court, both by Democrats and

Republicans and it does not serve

the interests of the country or the

legal profession without regard to

which side it picks unqualified

cronies. Is it likely do you think

to seriously hurt the court to have

someone who you say is actually not

much less qualified, in fact, than

the woman she's replacing? It won't

hurt the court very much. The

hurt the court very much. The court has four or five brilliant judges,

both on the right and in the centre.

There are no leftists on the court

today. And those judges will

determine the tone of the court.

Harry Reid will not be an

influential member of the court.

She'll just get a vote. So it will

change because actually Sandra Day

change because actually Sandra Day O Connor was a highly qualified

politician. She was always able to

be the middle vote. She was always

able to determine the way the court

would go because she was an

effective politician. There's no

evidence that Miers will play that

role. So it could change the court

but not in a dramatic way I don't

think. It is interesting because

no-one really knows what kind of

role she's actually going to play.

One of the things they say about

One of the things they say about her is she's left no paper trail of

legal opinions or very few other

opinions. The big question is

opinions. The big question is would President Bush have put up someone

who he didn't intimately know,

who he didn't intimately know, whose ideas he wasn't certain of? I think

he knows a lot more than we know

about what her opinions are and

about what her opinions are and he's made this bizarre statement saying

he knows she won't change in 20

years. She changed already from

being a Catholic to an evangelical

Protestant, she changed from being

pro-choice to pro-life after

pro-choice to pro-life after meeting Bush and being in his presence.

Bush and being in his presence. She said Bush was the most brilliant

said Bush was the most brilliant man she ever met. Some would question

that judgment as well. She is a

blank slate. We have no idea what

she will look like in 20 years when

the Supreme Court has before it

cases of a kind, we have no idea of

their dimensions. We won't be

deciding abortione issues will be

high technology and the war on

terrorism and nobody knows where

terrorism and nobody knows where she stand. She has no record on

stand. She has no record on scltion law or national security issues, so

- this is really a faith based

appointment by a faith-based

administration. It's funny you

should say that, because one

prominent American who is openly

backing her is the Conservative

Christian leader Dr James Dobsen

Christian leader Dr James Dobsen the chairman of the group Focus on the

Family. An immensely powerful

Family. An immensely powerful lobby as you know. He says he's

as you know. He says he's confident because he's spoken to the person

who "brought her to God". It seems

he's counting on divine inspiration.

God talks to him everyday unlike to

the rest of us and he also think s

that by speaking to the pastor of

her church he will get an inside

scoop and I will hope that the

Senate calls him as a witness and

finds out precisely what he was

finds out precisely what he was told and what the basis of that

information is. The Senate is

information is. The Senate is going to have a very, very important job

deeply probing the background of

this woman and her credentials and

what is known about her. What the

White House knows and what the

religious right knows that the rest

of us don't know, because the rest

of us are entitled to know who

of us are entitled to know who we're getting to be a dominant member of

the Supreme Court of potential

the Supreme Court of potential swing vote over the next 20 or 25 years.

Much turns on that in terms not

Much turns on that in terms not only of our rights but our children and

even potentially our grandchildren

because as you know, women's long

because as you know, women's long ge gefity can go into the 08s and 90s.

We're talking about the President

trying to influence American policy

for many years after he's out of

office. Dr Dobsen is betting on her

being on his side of the great

theological debate. He's telling

his folks, "You'll have to trust me

on this one. " If he's wrong the

blood of aborted foetuses will be

blood of aborted foetuses will be on his hands. Could they be the two

that ever up overturning Roe v Wade?

╝Yellow╛No they won't overturn Roe

╝Yellow╛No they won't overturn Roe v Wade for several reasons tae.s too

deeply entrenched as a precedent.

It's helped and Republicans

enormously because it energised and

right to life movement and put to

sleep the right to choice movement.

It also gave moderate Republicans

It also gave moderate Republicans an opportunity to vote Republican even

if they themselves favour a woman's

right to choose. Sorrow row has

right to choose. Sorrow row has been a great gift to the Republican

a great gift to the Republican Party and it will never be overruled.

Within five to ten years the whole

abortion issue will be taken off

abortion issue will be taken off the table largely by the intervention

table largely by the intervention of science. So I think the focus, the

obsessive focus on Roe v Wade and

abortion misleads American people

about what the role of a Supreme

Court justice is likely to be over

the next 10 or 15 years. Alright,

the next 10 or 15 years. Alright, so what do you think her influence

what do you think her influence will be combined with the new Chief

Justice in terms of the sort of

Justice in terms of the sort of laws that may be coming down the track -

and you've mentioned security as

and you've mentioned security as one of the keys, and clearly it will be?

Right, right. Well I think

Right, right. Well I think there'll be a real seduction game going on.

I think everybody on the court will

try to befriend the new justice if

she gets confirmed because she is a

blank slate and she knows nothing

about scltion law. There'll be

great lobbying efforts by people

like Roberts and Scalea and Thomas

on the ate justices on the other

hand and there'll be efforts to try

to persuade her to join their camp.

In the beginning she clearly will

join the Republican camp. She will

follow Roberts probably and then

maybe she will emerge as somebody

with independent views, but there's

no evidence of where those

independent views would come from.

There is no record of her ever

having independent views on any

subject at all. She has been a

follower rather than a leader in

follower rather than a leader in her legal life and there's no reason to

believe that as to that aspect of

her life she will change, although

you never know. Because when

you never know. Because when you're on the Supreme Court you answer to

no-one and if you answer to no-one

you can emerge somewhat differently

as some justices have over the

years. Unless, of course, you

years. Unless, of course, you answer to God? Well and then it depends on

which god and what he's saying to

you or what she's saying to you and,

you know, God speaks in many voices

to many different kind of people

to many different kind of people and she may also be answerable to her

church which hears the voice of God

in a very conservative way. It

doesn't focus on the Jesus who

doesn't focus on the Jesus who helps the poor but rather the Jesus who

seems to help the rich and the

corporations, the Jesus that most

Christians are not familiar with,

but the evangelical right has

defined religon in a way that helps

the wealthy and hurts the poor

often. Well Pat Buchanan and indeed

the Pat Buchanans of this world are

essentially saying that George essentially saying that George W.

Bush has blown his chance to win

Bush has blown his chance to win the 30 or 40-year culture war by

30 or 40-year culture war by totally reshaping in let's say the image of

Scalea and Thomas, the Supreme

Court. Do you think that's right

and if so, why did Bush falter at

the last minute, at the hurdle?

Well I think because he's very weak

as a president and because his

approval ratings are down. By the

way, a president should not be

entitled to win culture war force

the next 40 years. Presidents

elected for a term of four years

elected for a term of four years and then a second term of eight years

and the head hand of the law should

not be able to determine policy for

30 or 40 years and the Supreme

30 or 40 years and the Supreme Court is not a place where culture wars

are supposed to be fought,

especially the Republicans claim

that the justices of the Supreme

Court are ╝white╛I supposed to

decide cases narrowly construe the

constitution, narrowly construe

statutes. Suddenly we're hearing

about the Supreme Court being at

about the Supreme Court being at the centre of a culture war. We get

Republicans speaking out of both

sides of their mouths on this issue.

This is an issue beyond the United

States. It is already in Canada

where you get judges who are being

criticised for being judicial

activists. I strongly suspect it's

coming to other common law countrys

and probably is not too far from

Australia. It's happened in Israel

and other common law countries

and other common law countries where the courts take on a very, very

important role and then suddenly

everybody is concerned who the new

justice will be, because people are

entitled to know who is going to be

influencing their lives. In the

influencing their lives. In the old days when courts ╝white╛I decided

commercial cases or boring cases,

nobody cared if only nobody cared if only qualified

people were put on the court, but

today around the world people are

increasingly concerned about who

increasingly concerned about who the people are under those robes.

Alright, one final quick question,

we are unfortunately running out of

time, but I'd just like to ask you

to contemplate what actually might

change. Let's say she is wooed

change. Let's say she is wooed over to what is effectively a Republican

camp inside the High Court. What

major changes could there be in the

coming years? I think the biggest

issues would be the separation of

church and state, the high wall of

separation which is characterised

America over the years and which

America over the years and which all people are equal without regard to

whether they are religon or not

could come crumbling down and

America is becoming an increasingly

religious country and an

increasingly fundamentalist country

and that wall is an important

protection for those who don't

protection for those who don't share fundamentalist viewses. Secondly

the war against terrorism, how to

strike the appropriate balance.

Does the President have unilateral

authority to go to war? Does he

authority to go to war? Does he have authority to invade Iraq? Does Hef

authority to take action against

Iran for its nuclear facilities

without Congress? The centralised

presidency is going to be very,

presidency is going to be very, very important and then there are social

issues like assisted suicide which

was argued yesterday in the Supreme

Court, the stretch of Federal power

and religon, State power. These

and religon, State power. These are all very important issues. And

all very important issues. And then modern technology, how do we

regulate technology? Where do

freedoms end and property rights

begin? These are all very very

important concerns that will be on

the docket of the Supreme Court

the docket of the Supreme Court over the years. Alan Dershowitz thank

the years. Alan Dershowitz thank you very much for the depth of that

analysis. We are out of time.

analysis. We are out of time. It's been a pleasure to talk to you.

My pleasure, thank you. To the markets now. And as we heard earlier,

the All Ordinaries continued its downward slide following a weaker US market. Lower commodity prices overnight weighed on resource stocks with Rio Tinto down 80 cents. Santos slumped 4% and all the major banks declined. In the region, both the Hang Seng and the Nikkei have lost ground. London's FTSE is also lower. On the commodities markets, gold is slightly stronger. Oil has dropped to US$62.16 a barrel and the Australian dollar is just shy of 76 US cents. Now to the weather.

And that's all for this evening. If you'd like to look back at tonight's interview or review any of Lateline's stories or transcripts, you can visit our website at: www.abc.net.au/lateline Maxine McKew will be in this chair tomorrow night,