'This Week' Transcript: Secretaries Gates and Clinton

TAPPER: Senator Schumer, you said in 2007 that the Senate should reverse the presumption of confirmation, and that a nominee's ideology does matter. Should Republicans adopt the Schumer principle when considering President Obama's nominee?

SCHUMER: Well, I think actually, in fact, Senator Kyl and I in terms of standard are saying the same thing. What you want is somebody who will follow the law, not make the law. Not impose their ideology, if they're far right, far left, on the law itself. If they're in the mainstream, you don't have to agree with all of their views to vote for them. I voted for hundreds of judges that George Bush nominated, and I didn't agree with their views, their judicial ideology. But as long as I thought they would follow the law, not make law, I was willing to vote for them.

And the one final thing I'd say is this. If you look at who President Obama has nominated, somebody like Judge Sotomayor, who got nine Republicans to vote for her, no one questioned that she was out of the mainstream. The other nominees in many of the courts of appeals and district courts, he chooses people in the mainstream. So I don't think there's going to be a filibuster or a blocking. And furthermore, practically, this is not a switched vote -- a swing vote in the sense that your -- having somebody, Justice Stevens, and President Obama is likely to choose somebody in Justice Stevens' image.

TAPPER: Senator Schumer, do you think that if you were giving President Obama advice, would you recommend that he go with a more moderate person ideologically, or does it matter?

SCHUMER: Well, the first and most important criterion is legal excellence, and of course I think we'll find that.

To me, there is a second criteria that matters a lot, and it's a little bit different. In my view at least, Justice Roberts has tried to move the court very far to the right, much further than we ever envisioned. I think Justice Stevens felt that in some of the opinions, dissents that he rendered. And he's been able to get Justice Kennedy to go along with some of those. So my view would be, I'd like the new nominee to be one of five, not one of four when the votes come up, and somebody who would be quite persuasive in terms of influencing other justices, I guess particularly Justice Kennedy, to his or her point of view. And that would matter to me more than -- more than any particular ideology.

TAPPER: Senator Kyl, almost the reverse question for you when it comes to the filibuster. Throughout the Bush years, you repeatedly spoke against Democrats using the filibuster. In 2008, you said this, quote, "It's been understood by both parties that you do not play politics when it comes to confirming judges, because while you may be able to stop the other party president's nominations one time, they might be able to stop yours next time. Besides which, it's not good government, it's not doing the people's business. The president was elected fair and square. He has the right to submit judicial nominees, and it's the Senate's obligation under the Constitution to act on those nominees. So are you willing to take the filibuster off the table?

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