Giuliani Says He's 'Originalist' on Constitution

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT

( - Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican presidential candidate, told the conservative Federalist Society on Friday that he shared its belief in an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution. Noting his views on gun control and abortion, however, some in attendance took issue with Giuliani's claim.

"We believe in the rule of law, not the rule of judges," Giuliani said. "Our constitutional principles instruct us to recognize limitations on power as a way of protecting liberties ... for many, many years law schools have been confusing constitutional law with sociology, and there's a big difference."

On average, a president has the opportunity to appoint about 200 judges in a four-year term, Giuliani said. The leading Democratic presidential candidates are all likely to select activist judges inclined to legislate from the bench, he warned. By contrast, he would work with an advisory committee to select judges who will interpret law, rather than write it.

"I'm going to give you 200 reasons why the next election is so important," he said. "It's the 200 federal judges the next president will likely appoint."

Former Solicitor General Ted Olsen, who has endorsed Giuliani, would be among those on Giuliani's advisory panel. Olsen told Cybercast News Service that Giuliani is an example of someone who understands and appreciates the importance of limited government.

Pro-life, Second Amendment advocates raise questions

However, some pro-life and Second Amendment advocates in attendance felt Giuliani's address was deliberately crafted to avoid directly addressing some of their central concerns.

"A decision to go for him is really a decision to remove the Republican Party as the pro-life party," said Hadley Arkes, professor of jurisprudence and American institutions at Amherst College in Massachusetts. "He talked about everything today except the issue of abortion and this was not inadvertent."

Larry Cirignano, executive director of, however, is receptive to Giuliani as an alternative to Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, the Democratic frontrunner.

"He's obviously going to be much better than Hillary on judges, that's an easy decision," Cirignano said. "He's much more on our side and he's surrounding himself with people who help select judicial nominees."

John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime" told Cybercast News Service he was disappointed he did not have the opportunity to ask Giuliani questions.

"He talks about how it's an abuse of the legal process for people to bring suits that try to accomplish public policy goals," said Lott.

"So I wanted to ask him about his suit against gun manufacturers. He has talked about how this suit has morphed into something he disagreed with and I wanted him to be specific and tell how this suit had changed and what had been included that now he disagreed with," he added.

Giuliani decried as a "sad chapter" in American history the mistreatment of judicial nominees that began with Robert Bork, the Reagan nominee, who was denied a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.

Additionally, he objected to the use of a filibuster to block Senate floor votes on judicial nominees. "At least have the courage of your convictions," Giuliani said. "If I am president, I will put up nominees I believe in and will stand behind. The Senate should have the courage to vote yes, or no, but not to hide on these nominations."

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