Wednesday, March 10, 2004

More Senate Democratic Primary Buzzzzz: Maria Pappas (and Blair Hull) operatives are said to be buzzing around, like bees dropping honey on the media, with “stuff” about Barack Obama. What will Maria do, in that regard, tonight at the Ch. 7, 7:00 pm (LWV, et al) straightjacket Democratic Senate Candidate debate that seems intended to stifle creativity and interaction among the Senate candidates.

Public Affairs caught up with Maria Pappas on Feb. 28 and she generously gave us an extended videotaped interview, from which we extracted a five minute discussion of judicial appointments for our show, which, along with segments including five other U. S. Senate Candidates (See posting on this blog, immediately below this posting) is airing in the suburbs tonight and Friday, and also in the City of Chicago on Monday, March 15 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21. The verbatim transcript of that segment is provided, below:

Jeff Berkowitz: The real [judicial appointment] battlelines are for the federal appellate courts. Because, for the appellate courts, that is where people have to sit and construe statutes and deal with policy, not make laws, but interpret laws. The [federal] district courts do this-- but to a much smaller extent, so the right number [or question] and…is how many appellate court justices have been nominated and how many have been blocked [by the Democratic Senate filibusters] and there the percentage is fairly high. That is the point I am making.

Maria Pappas: Let’s take an example of a blocking [of a judicial appointment] like [that of] Estrada. The D. C. court—

Berkowitz: Miguel Estrada is Hispanic and one of the best-credentialed nominees to come by in recent years. He was nominated to the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals [by President Bush].

Maria Pappas: which is an extraordinarily

Berkowitz: prestigious

Pappas: very prestigious, extraordinarily important circuit

Berkowitz: indeed.

Pappas: extraordinarily important circuit

Berkowitz: I won’t disagree with you on that.

Pappas: I mean probably one of the most important circuits. And, what was his background?

Berkowitz: What was it? Tell our viewers.

Pappas: He was anti- [reproductive] choice. He was anti anti-everything. He was anti everything that the Democratic Party stands for. He was anti-choice. He was for curtailing civil liberties. Okay, he was--

Berkowitz: How do you know he was anti-choice?

Pappas: Because I followed up on it today.

Berkowitz: No, I mean where did it say he was anti-choice? Somebody interviewed him and he said he was anti-choice?

Pappas: I can give you the--

Berkowitz: Well, that is what people suspected. But, I don’t know that he ever said he was anti-choice. I doubt that. I doubt that sincerely. But, more to the point, you said his background [was the problem]. His background is- where did he go to law school? I think it was Harvard. Where did he work previously? He worked in the Bill Clinton Solicitor General’s office—for former President Bill Clinton. He got rave [performance] reviews from the Democrats who generally worked all around him in the Solicitor General’s office. [They said] that he was an excellent person in terms of practicing law, in terms of executing the functions of our government. You understand that, right? So, that’s his background.

Pappas: What I am telling you is that—

Berkowitz: [pointing Maria Pappas toward the camera] Don’t tell me, tell our viewers.

Pappas: What I am telling you is that from a basic, fundamental Democratic point of view, his opinions and his philosophical understanding of issues that are important to Democrats were at the extreme.

Berkowitz: You are saying that he doesn’t agree with many aspects of the Democratic [party] philosophy, which might be your philosophy. But, should that be the way in which we approve judges.

Pappas: I am not saying—

Berkowitz: Shouldn’t we at least look at—are they qualified? Do they have a judicial temperament? I think on those criteria, Miguel Estrada, Hispanic American—now you know from things we found from internal staff papers for the [Senate Minority on the] Judiciary Committee is that there were various “independent groups,” telling the [Democratic senate members of the] Judiciary Committee “we are very scared of Miguel Estrada because he is so qualified once he gets on the D. C. Court of Appeals, he could then possibly be nominated to the U. S. Supreme Court and because he is Hispanic he might be especially attractive as a Nominee.” Now, don’t you find that kind of an analysis going to our government officials just a little bit offensive?

Pappas: I consider myself pro-choice.

Berkowitz: : [pointing Maria Pappas toward the camera] tell our viewers.

Pappas: I consider myself pro-choice across the board and my understanding of several things that I have read, several things that I have read, including today, is that he is absolutely anti-choice, so on that basis I would not vote for his confirmation.

Berkowitz: So, you would have a litmus test for judges that unless they say they are pro-choice, that is unless they say they favor Roe v. Wade and think a woman should have a right to have an abortion under almost all circumstances, the person doesn’t make your litmus test. You would say that is an appropriate way to assess judicial nominations?

Pappas: Now, you are putting words in my mouth.

Berkowitz: Well, that sounds like a litmus test to me.

Maria Pappas: Well, it is not just that. It is not just choice. It is also—

Berkowitz: What else?

Pappas: It is also the basic fundamental philosophy; it is anti-Democratic. We see

Berkowitz: Which is what?

Pappas: Well, I am telling you. We see everything—You know what, I am going to go through, I am going to get tomorrow, I am going to get, exactly—I am going to give you everything and the cites on his opinions that have come down and why it is that this conclusion is reasonable. [To this date, Public Affairs has received no such materials from the Pappas for U. S. Senate Campaign]

Maria Pappas, interviewed by Jeff Berkowitz on February 28, 2004 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, standing outside an Asian- American conference, and the interview is the concluding segment of a show that is being cablecast this week in the suburbs on “Public Affairs.” See, below, March 1 entry for suburban airing schedule of “Public Affairs.”