Sept. 16, 1996: Bob Dole speaking at Villanova University. He emphasized the twin evils of drugs and crime.
April 24, 1996: Bob Dole, has criticized several federal judges as being "liberal" and promised his appointees would be "tougher on criminals."
April 2, 1996: Are Democratic appointed judges too liberal and too soft on crime?
April 2, 1996: Kwame Holman looks at the political furor that surrounds Judge Howard Baer's decision to deem 80 pounds of drugs inadmissable evidence.
July 2, 1996: A review of the year that was in the Supreme Court.
Complete rundown of the NewsHour legal coverage.
"Many of the judges that Mr. Clinton has appointed to the federal bench are precisely the ones who are dismantling those guard rails that protect society from the... anti-social elements in our midst."
This volley came from Bob Dole in late April in the midst of a heated debate about whether the federal judges appointed by Clinton are too liberal. The flashpoint case for this issue was presided over by Judge Howard Baer, a Clinton appointee. He deemed 80 pounds of cocaine and heroin as inadmissable evidence in a drug case. A decision he later reversed following the introduction of new evidence in a second hearing of the case and an outcry by Republicans in Congress. In the face of this, President Clinton has defended his choices, pointing out that Dole had "voted for 98 percent of the judges that I appointed."
A study by the Insitute for Justice has shown that decisions by Clinton Judges are more liberal than those of Bush and Reagan appointees. Clint Bolick, from the Institute, noted on the NewsHour that this doesn't mean much for most cases, "...the overwhelming majority of (criminal) cases would be decided the same no matter who appointed a judge. But in controversial or close cases the Clinton judges are more likely to side with the ...criminal defendants than Reagan or Bush judges." Is this a cause for concern? On the same show New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis countered that "...most liberal judicial thinkers believe that the President's appointments have been far too centrist." A study by the America Bar Association gave 62% of Clinton's appointees a "well qualified" rating as opposed to only 52% of Bush appointees.
By this point in his presidency, Mr. Clinton has appointed 1/4 of the judges in the federal court. They make up a record number of minorities and women including the appointment of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. Of 196 appointments, half are women or minorities. With crime, drugs and Clinton's liberal leanings all on Bob Dole's hit list, this issue will be a hot one on the road to election day.