Kristol Flashback: 2006 and 2008 should be a “referendum” on composition of Supreme Court

From the January 29, 2006, broadcast of Fox News Sunday:

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KRISTOL: A comfortable majority of Democrats is going to vote for the filibuster and against cloture, and 90 percent of the Democrats in the Senate are going to vote against the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.

This is a big moment. The Democratic Party, institutionally, in the Senate is saying that a man like Samuel Alito, most of his career non- partisan legal and judicial roles, a very distinguished resume, well qualified by the American Bar Association, et cetera, et cetera -- that someone like him cannot be on the Supreme Court because he is, quote, out of the mainstream.

We saw Howard Dean earlier in your interview say that the eavesdropping program conducted under the supervision of Lieutenant General Hayden by the National Security Agency, entirely staffed by career employees -- that that somehow is pernicious, intolerably is kind of domestic spying on political enemies. The Democratic Party is at risk if the Republicans exploit this now. They either focus and make the case that the Democratic Party is the party that stands against men like Alito being judges and the leadership of people like General Hayden in terms of national security, and I think that's very dangerous for the Democratic Party if Republicans highlight this to the voters.

WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, that falls in with Karl Rove's basic strategy going into the midterms, which is to tell Americans be afraid, you know, the Republicans are the party that's strong enough to fight terrorism, and the Democrats are weak-kneed, and you can be uncertain about it.

I think domestic issues, which is a lot of what you're going to hear from the president in his state of the union -- that are going to come to the fore, but the question is whether or not fear dominates this election. Again, it's worked for Republicans time and again. Why not?

But here's the thing. I think that when you think about Kerry's position, I think, Bill Kristol, you know, you have to acknowledge that Samuel Alito is not President Bush's choice. He's not Alberto Gonzales. He's not Harriet Miers. It was an ideological selection made by the president to satisfy -- you talk about the left-wing base -- to satisfy the right-wing base.

And I think that's what we've got now, and that's why you've got most Democrats -- you know, half of the Democrats said okay to John Roberts. That's not the case here.

KRISTOL: Because Roberts was replacing Rehnquist. And Alito will move the court a click back in the conservative or constitutional direction. And let's have a referendum on that in 2006 and 2008. Do they want a liberal Supreme Court, or do they want a moderately conservative Supreme Court?