'This Week' Transcript: Sens. Leahy and Hatch

Supreme Court

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."

Justice Souter retires.


DAVID H. SOUTER, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I find the workload of what I do sufficiently great that I undergo a sort of annual intellectual lobotomy.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As President Obama prepares to make his mark on the Supreme Court, our headliners are the senators who must ratify his choice, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, and its longest-serving Republican Orrin Hatch.

Then, swine flu continues to spread. Has the worst passed or is it still to come? We'll ask the federal team in charge.

And Senator Specter switches sides.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, D-PA.: I've decided to be a candidate in the Democratic primary.


STEPHANOPOULOS: What will it mean for Obama's agenda and the GOP's future? That and the rest of the week's politics on our roundtable with George Will, Gwen Ifill of PBS, Jerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal and Paul Krugman of the New York Times. And as always, the Sunday funnies.


JAY LENO: See all those people on the news walking around wearing those surgical masks, huh? Suddenly Michael Jackson not so crazy, huh? Yes.


STEPHANOPOULOS: By Friday, David Souter's wish to quit the Supreme Court had become Washington's worst kept secret, but President Obama stage-managed a bit of a surprise that afternoon when he crashed the daily briefing.


OBAMA: If there's a job to do, you got to do it yourself.


STEPHANOPOULOS: After thanking Justice Souter for his service, the president described his ideal justice -- a person of intelligence, excellence, integrity and empathy.


OBAMA: I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives. Whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Which brings us to our headliners, Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and its former chairman, Republican Orrin Hatch.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both. And Senator Hatch, let me begin with you. What did you make of the criteria the president laid out?

HATCH: Well, it's a matter of great concern. If he's saying that he wants to pick people who will take sides -- he's also said that a judge has to be a person of empathy. What does that mean? Usually that's a code word for an activist judge.

But he also said that he's going to select judges on the basis of their personal politics, their personal feelings, their personal preferences. Now, you know, those are all code words for an activist judge, who is going to, you know, be partisan on the bench.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, he did also say he wants someone who respects the rule of law and the limits of the judicial role...

HATCH: He did say that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it sounds like you're saying that you think there's a tension between following the law and following your feelings when you're a judge.

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