'This Week' Transcript: Sens. Leahy and Hatch

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Leahy, let me bring you back in on this. You heard what Senator Hatch said there. Meanwhile, on the left of your party, you're hearing a lot of liberals say the president shouldn't pay any attention to the Republican Party on this pick. He should pick a full-throated liberal, someone who is really going to move the court. One example comes from Nan Aron of the president of the Alliance for Justice. She says, "Even before Senator Arlen Specter announced he was changing parties and Al Franken's Minnesota victory was clear, Republicans in Congress were losing strength as fewer voters identified with their agenda. They should not be allowed to stand in the way of a nominee who will uphold the Constitution."

Do you think the president should follow that course? Probably will have 60 votes soon. Pick someone who can get there on Democratic votes alone?

LEAHY: It takes 51 votes to confirm somebody, and I would assume that -- we never filibuster justices of the Supreme Court. We don't do it for...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You filibustered Justice Alito, didn't you?

LEAHY: No. We don't filibuster for either side, and so we have -- there's going to be a vote, up or down. I fully expect that. I think the last time there was a kind of a successful filibuster was Abe Fortas, and that was a Democratic...


STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats did try to filibuster Justice Alito, if I remember correctly, sir.


LEAHY: There was a cursory vote that everybody knew would not succeed on the motion to proceed.

LEAHY: I mean, now we're getting down into the weeds. The fact is, Justice Alito, I did not vote for him. Senator Hatch did. He got both Democratic and Republican votes, just as Chief Justice Roberts, whom I did vote for, got both Democratic and Republican votes.

The fact of the matter is, we will have an up-or-down vote on whoever it's going to be, and I would hope that the president would go with his instincts.

Look what he's done with his Cabinet. He's had pretty darned good Cabinet choices, and I think he's going to make a very good choice here.

You will hear a lot on the far right or the far left who will say who he should or shouldn't go with. Remember, a lot of the left-wing groups picketed, actually picketed the Senate building that I'm in against me, because I was going to vote for David Souter. They said it would be terrible, the end of the world if we confirmed David Souter. Now those same groups think David Souter was a great justice.

The fact of the matter is that the president will make a good choice just as he has with his Cabinet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He wants this in place by...

LEAHY: Then we have to vote for it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He wants this in place by the first Monday in October, as you know, and that would mean that getting this done, he hopes, the White House hopes by the August recess. Is that possible?

LEAHY: Well, one, we certainly will have somebody in place. It would be irresponsible if we didn't have somebody in place by the beginning of the October session.

I'll decide when we'll have the hearing on the person after they have been named and after I consulted with whoever -- maybe Orrin could tell me who is going to be the ranking member...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You set me up there, Senator. I want to bring Senator Hatch back in on this.

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