'This Week' Transcript: Sens. Leahy and Hatch


STEPHANOPOULOS: Michael Steele saying good riddance to Arlen Specter. Republican senator became a Democrat this week, bringing the Democrats one step closer to 60 in the Senate. Lots of different implications to that switch we're going to talk about on the roundtable today.

Let me bring in George Will, Jerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal, Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Princeton, and Gwen Ifill of PBS.

And I want to get to the Republican Party later, George, but let's begin with the implications of this for the Supreme Court. Of course, Arlen Specter was the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. He's out right now. As this goes forward, we're going to learn a lot about President Obama, his party and the Republican Party.

WILL: We are. This will not change the balance on the court because this is a liberal being -- will be replaced by presumably a liberal. You may be admiring my necktie.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I love your tie.

WILL: That is the silhouette...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Tell me what it's about.

WILL: The silhouette of James Madison. This is the tie of the Federalist Society. And when I wear it on television, sleeper cells all over the country are activated...


WILL: ... to go to war. But there will be no war over this. He has a majority. He's no fool. Whoever he nominates will be confirmed. And then he may be disappointed, because Justice Souter disappointed George Herbert Walker Bush. Justice Felix Frankfurter disappointed Franklin Roosevelt. These people take on lives of their own when they get onto the court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, George, you say there will be no war, so let me bring in Gwen Ifill right here. I think George is probably right on that everything we know about President Obama shows a temperate nature. Yet, he is getting a lot of pressure already from liberals who say, you know what, you've got -- you'll have 60 votes this summer. Go pick someone, even if it means getting 30 Republican no votes.

IFILL: Because that's the way it works in Washington. There's always a war, even if the outcome is predetermined about something like this.

By the way, Justices Alito and Justice Roberts did not disappoint George W. Bush, so there's a lot to be said for -- and probably a longer track record of Supreme Court nominees who do do what is expected of them. That's why...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Breyer and Ginsburg got overwhelming votes, but they turned out to be pretty steadfast liberals over there.

IFILL: Well, I don't think anybody was confused that they were going to be pretty steadfast liberals. That was at a time when people thought it was the thing to do, that unless this person, this nominee really was horrible and in some way was not worthy of the seat, you gave the president his choice. That clearly is not what happens anymore, and what really has to happen for these -- for anybody that a president nominates not to be confirmed is, you know, especially with 60 votes now, it looks like maybe perhaps in the Senate, it would take a lot more, but...

STEPHANOPOULOS: A personal problem.

IFILL: A personal problem. Something -- and even -- and there are people on the court who had personal problems who still managed to get confirmed, so it would take a lot. But I think there's still going to be a fight because there's always a fight.

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