The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Barack Obama
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
May 26, 2009
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:07 P.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS: Before we get going here, let me start with a couple of quick announcements.

On his trip next week, the beginning of the trip, President Obama will make a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While there the President will meet with His Majesty King Abdullah to discuss a range of important issues, including Middle East peace, Iran and terrorism. That's the front end of the trip.

Q: What day is that?

MR. GIBBS: That would be -- we leave here -- I don't know all the time differences. We leave here the evening of June 2, so I guess that's the evening of June 3.

Q: Why was this added on?

MR. GIBBS: The President believes it's a chance to discuss a lot of important business and he thought it was a good opportunity to do that.

Q: Will that be the place where he'll outline the peace process he's going to try to reinvigorate in Cairo?

MR. GIBBS: I'm sorry?

Q: Would that be the place where he will discuss the outlines of his possible peace proposal he might outline in the speech in Cairo?

MR. GIBBS: Well, as I said last week, I think he's going to discuss elements of how to bring about peace in the Middle East. But the Cairo speech is not intended to lay out some detailed map for how one gets to that.

Q: Is this something that can be all press included, because last I heard it was just pool?

MR. GIBBS: That's something they're working on. The schedule that I've seen I think includes a dinner, an overnight, and then a fly to Cairo. So there's not a public event at the stop.

Secondly, the President released the 60-day Cyberspace Policy Review Report at the White House on Friday, May 29. The administration recognizes the very serious threats public and private sector networks face from cybercrime and cyberattack. Recognizing these threats the President has elevated cybersecurity to a major administration priority, undertaking the early comprehensive interagency review.

The administration is also committed to establishing the proper structure within the government to ensure cybersecurity issues continue to receive top-level attention and enhanced coordination. The report is an important first step towards securing our nation's cyber infrastructure.

And -- let me get organized -- with those announcements, Ms. Loven.

Q: Thank you. Can you talk about the role that the President himself will play in the confirmation process going forward? Does he plan to visit with senators, talk with senators? What is his personal involvement going to look like?

MR. GIBBS: Well, he has been on the phone -- was on the phone earlier this morning before the announcement of the pick, talking to a few senators. I don't know exactly the number of calls he's made since then or whether he's going to continue to make calls. Obviously, the President believes that he has put forward a very well qualified individual with rich experience in a number of different areas, and that the confirmation can be done in a timely way in order to ensure that this justice is in place for the next court's business.

Q: Well, then who is the point person for making the case personally with members of the Senate?

MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously starting next week I think that you'll see the nominee go and make her case to members of the Judiciary Committee and then to the Senate -- members of the Senate as a larger body.

Q: But typically some Washington wise person from outside of the administration is brought in to guide a nominee through the process.

MR. GIBBS: Are you volunteering -- (laughter.)

Q: No, no, no. But --

MR. GIBBS: I think that Senator Schumer is going to play a role in doing that, as somebody who obviously has been around a number of court confirmations.

Q: But Schumer, we know, is going to introduce the nominee to the rest of the Senate.

MR. GIBBS: As the senior senator representing --

Q: Yes, right.

MR. GIBBS: -- I also think will help shepherd the nomination around, as well.

Q: What does the President think is her greatest quality for the job?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President picked Judge Sotomayor largely based on three criteria, the first being experience -- and when I say that, experience as a prosecutor, experience as a litigator, and then experience as both a circuit and an appellate court judge. In fact, we've pointed out that she will bring more experience on the federal branch then anybody that's been appointed to the Supreme Court in a hundred years.

I think, secondly, obviously the President believes strongly in her approach to judging, following precedent and the rule of law. And I think, lastly, obviously the President believes that her life story is a compelling one, and that her voice will be an important addition to the Supreme Court.

Q: Did she pay her taxes?

MR. GIBBS: Pardon me?

Q: Did she pay her taxes?

MR. GIBBS: I have not seen anything on that, Helen.

Q: Have these visits on the Hill been scheduled yet? Are there any meetings set up already?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I know of. I know that they'll --

Q: -- next week?

MR. GIBBS: I was told they would begin next week. I don't know in what order they'll happen. And we'll get that to you as soon as they're locked in.

Obviously, some of that is dependent -- we've got to get a few of those -- Senate is out right now, we've got to get those guys back in order for her to go door-to-door.

Q: Shifting quickly to General Motors, can you say where things stand on the debt exchange plan that's on the table? The bondholders seem very likely to reject that overwhelmingly. And is there a plan for a counter-offer?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I don't -- as we've done, both with the GM case and certainly in the lead up to the deadline on Chrysler, I don't want to do that from here. I don't want to be a negotiator in this process.

Obviously, we are -- we've got about a week to go. Obviously, a lot of the stakeholders are making sacrifices, and I think this is a process that will continue, as it did in the Chrysler situation, right up against the deadline. But again, I don't want to get into the back and forth on some of that.

Jake.

Q: If I could, just a quick question about North Korea. What is the administration's goal, other than some sort of piece of paper from the United Nations expressing disappointment with the nuclear bomb going off? What does the administration want to have happen concretely in terms of action?

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that the Security Council is currently meeting. I think they're likely to discuss next steps as far as that goes. Let me, though, address the initial part of your question.

I think the uniform and unified international criticism that we've seen since the reports of this testing demonstrate the outrage that countries around the world have for these actions. I think North Korea continues to deepen its isolation from the international community and continues, as we've said all along, to take steps in the wrong direction.

Q: I'm sorry, but you didn't actually answer my question.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I just said that obviously I think the Security Council is involved in some of these discussions --

Q: You don't want to tip your hand as to what you --

MR. GIBBS: I don't want to get in --

Q: -- guys would like?

MR. GIBBS: Yes.

Q: Okay. In terms of Judge Sotomayor, some of the conservative groups that have been involved in these fights in the past have said that she is radical, that she is a liberal activist, that she shows all indication that she wants to legislate from the bench. And I'm wondering what your response is?

MR. GIBBS: Well, my sense is that they --

Q: Helen says "good," by the way. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: My sense is that that is based on the fact that they yet have not had any time to read what she's written and the way she's acted as a judge for the previous 17 years. I don't think anybody could reasonably argue, based on looking at her cases, that she's somebody that legislates from the federal bench.

I think that is -- in some ways from interest groups the rhetoric is regrettably predictable. I think a fair and honest hearing, which we believe that she'll get, will demonstrate somebody who understands and respects the law, somebody that honors and respects judicial precedent, and somebody that the President thinks is well qualified and will make a very strong Supreme Court justice.

Yes, sir.

Q: On North Korea, this administration has always been pushing diplomacy rather than any kind of military force. At what point does the administration have to stop talking and maybe even do more acting, something a little more forceful than that? Has there been given any thought to this?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I would point out to you though we are hardly surprised at their actions, understand that it was exactly our response to their initial tests, their demanding an apology from the U.N. Security Council that led to the actions that have been reported over the weekend.

So I think the notion somehow of talk versus action I think is in many ways -- at least according to them -- I think that's setting up something that doesn't appear, at least in their opinion, to be the case.

Q: But in terms of anything much tougher -- military action, anything kind of thing like that -- is that being entertained?

MR. GIBBS: If it was, I wouldn't get into it here.

Q: On Nevada, the President headed out to Las Vegas and the governor there apparently has declined an invitation to meet the President. Is there any reaction to that? And also the governor saying that the administration has been unwilling to sit down and talk about the comments that the President made back in February about not coming to Las Vegas.

MR. GIBBS: Well, that isn't -- let me match the first part of your question to the second part of your question and understand how he believes we're unwilling to sit down if he decided to reject an invitation to sit down?

Q: No, no. I said what -- the governor has declined to meet with the President on the visit out there. That's the first question. So the reaction to that?

MR. GIBBS: Okay, and what was your second question?

Q: The second was that there was some meeting -- wanting to have some kind of meeting to discuss what the President -- the comments the President had made back in February, about not coming to Las Vegas.

MR. GIBBS: I don't -- if I'm misunderstanding you, I don't mean to.

Q: -- talking about. But let's just take the first one.

MR. GIBBS: Right. Well, let me take the second one and add it to the first one. And again, I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth, but if the governor is seeking an explanation for the President's comments, I think what you're referring to is whether or not companies that are receiving substantial money through TARP should go to Las Vegas, but at the same time you're telling me that he's turned down an invitation to meet with the President, I would say that the actions seem incongruent if indeed he wants to have a legitimate discussion --

Q: -- declined to -- it's like declining to meet with the President at the airport when the President arrived versus sitting down and meeting with the President.

Q: Was the President offering him a meeting at the airport --

MR. GIBBS: Well, you know, generally when the -- I haven't seen many politicians meet anybody anywhere and not find it a convenient opportunity to press whatever case it is they're trying to make. I would suggest that if the government has a specific point that he'd like to make to the President of the United States, he's landing in a few hours in Las Vegas, and apparently has been invited to make that case. Again, I'm having trouble reconciling the actions of the governor.

Yes.

Q: Some Republicans have suggested that perhaps there's not enough time -- that they'd like a little bit more time, and that it's not a foregone conclusion that she's getting confirmed before the August recess. Would the President be flexible on that timeline at all --

MR. GIBBS: Well, Savannah, I think --

Q: -- so that they would feel more comfortable?

MR. GIBBS: I think it's important to understand a little bit of the history here. I think the average is about 72 days. I think the Roberts' hearing, I've seen either -- the Roberts from announcement to confirmation was somewhere between 72 or 73 days. There are currently 74 days between now and target adjournment. So I think the President would say there's likely ample time in order to begin and complete this process in what he thinks is a timely manner.

Secondly, obviously this is a judge that's not unfamiliar to the United States Senate, having been through the confirmation process twice. And lastly, the Ginsburg nomination went through even faster than the 72 days. In fact, the announcement the President makes is about 19 days ahead of, in terms of the number of days from where we were with Justice Ginsburg to where we are with Judge Sotomayor.

So I think the President believes there is ample time to get a fair and honest hearing. He understands the important role the Senate plays to advise and consent, especially something as important as a Supreme Court nomination. But at the same time, I think the President is eager to have a justice in place before the Senate goes on recess in order to get that person ready to do the court's work in talking to and meeting colleagues, in the selection of cases, and then ultimately ready to hit the ground running when the court starts work in October.

Q: And just to get your reaction of one statement that seems to get a lot of attention, a quote she has from 2001 saying, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

I just wonder -- I presume the President was aware of that statement, and what is his reaction? Did he agree with it?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think if you look at the context of the longer speech that she makes, I don't -- I think what she says is very much common sense in terms of different experiences that different people have.

Obviously the President has looked at any number of these issues and believes that Judge Sotomayor is well qualified and will be a great justice for the Supreme Court.

Jonathan.

Q: The other quote that's kind of getting a lot of attention is the YouTube video in which she says that appellate courts are where laws are made -- or where policy is made. And she seems to acknowledge that this is kind of verboten because it's on tape. And I wonder, first, did the President see that YouTube video, was it part of the vetting process? And second, does the President believe that she is saying what she is saying, that the appellate court is where policy is made?

MR. GIBBS: Well, let me broaden your question with this answer, because I know there are a lot of people that will look into the quote and I think it's important to look at not just what's up on YouTube, but the full context of the discussion that's being had at the point in which she talks about this.

There are two justices speaking to students who are thinking about applying for and taking clerkships. The previous speaker talks about the notion that there are circuit court and appellate court clerkships. And appellate court -- the point she makes is that appellate court -- the appellate courts deal with not individual cases, as do circuit courts, but instead complex legal issues and constitutional theory that the appellate courts are where those are discussed.

So I think if you -- again, I appreciate a very short, out of context, small YouTube clip, but I think if you, again, look at the full context of the full quote you find that it's a discussion between clerkships in the circuit and the appellate court. And I think she recognizes that even as she's explaining those differences that the word could be misconstrued and she seemed prescient to note that it would be misconstrued.

But as I said earlier to a question, I think if one looks closely at 17 years of judicial opinion you'll see that this is not somebody that you could reasonably argue advocates for or is engaged in legislating from the bench. I think that's what's important for anybody to understand.

Q: But in a political context -- I mean, this is going to confirmation in the YouTube era -- and is there some concern that that is the image of Sotomayor, running around --

MR. GIBBS: No, because even if I can't convince some people in this room, the President is very convinced that people that will look at the full context of this and not rely on, as I said, a small, short, out of context YouTube clip, and more importantly look at the basis of her entire record. I think you come to a broader understanding of who she is and what she meant.

Yes, sir.

Q: Robert, is confirmation now the President's top legislative agenda item?

MR. GIBBS: Involving Judge Sotomayor, yes. (Laughter.)

Q: No, I mean, overall.

MR. GIBBS: You know, I hesitate to rank these things, Mark, only because the President obviously is involved in, as has been noted in this room, a lot on his plate. Obviously, the President is hardly going to forget about what's going on economically. That's one of the reasons for the stop in tomorrow's event in Nevada. We'll be talking about, not too shortly, financial regulations as it relates to that, and obviously, weighing the strong foundation for long-term economic growth with health care reform and energy legislation.

I think this is certainly a high priority, but again I hesitate to rank the top 20.

Q: Can you outline your strategy for a confirmation?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think more than anything we first and foremost believe, and I think the statements from Republican senators denote a fair and honest process, we hope one that will be done in a very timely fashion. But I think, as is the case in most of these, the person that makes the best case for their nomination is often the justice. Judge Sotomayor will begin to do that individually, and then I think ultimately through the hearings.

But again, I think the President believes, based on who we've nominated -- somebody with rich and vast experience, somebody based on her approach to the rule of law and judicial precedent and her compelling life story are something that he believes will garner a majority in the Senate.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Because Judge Sotomayor is Hispanic, does the White House think that it will be too costly for Republicans who oppose her too harshly?

MR. GIBBS: I'm not going to get into the politics and the demographics of it. I think that the President picked the person he believed best suited for this job at this time. I just went through a couple of the -- certainly the three reasons, main reasons, why the notion that she brings more experience on the federal branch than anybody nominated in a hundred years.

I think we would expect that anybody in the Senate -- and anybody in the public, honestly -- would evaluate her on the strength of her credentials rather than on any other factor.

Q: And also, just in terms of the vetting, is the White House confident that tax issues, even though the White House is confident that, you know, any issues that come -- that do come up, the White House will defend her fully? But are there tax issues that could --

MR. GIBBS: I think she's been fully vetted, and we're confident.

Yes, sir.

Q: Robert, she started -- Judge Sotomayor started filling out her questionnaire last week, we were told this morning. When do you anticipate the Senate will receive that?

MR. GIBBS: I can certainly check on that. I don't know the progress. I don't know whether the full questionnaire has been finished or not.

Q: Is a nominee's history of opinions and reversals a relevant factor for the public and the Senate?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think it is one of the many factors that likely will be picked over and weighed as we go through this.

Q: How does the White House evaluate Judge Sotomayor's record on this score?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think if one were to create 380 opinions and have three reversed --

Q: What's the Supreme Court ratio?

MR. GIBBS: You tell me.

Q: Six opinions, three reversals.

MR. GIBBS: Right. Well, Major, don't just judge -- I wouldn't judge you on the stories I call you about. I might judge you on the full package of your repertoire. (Laughter.) Whether or not you ultimately seek to change any of the rhetoric on --

Q: I am not nominated for the Supreme Court, let the record reflect.

MR. GIBBS: I would agree with that.

Q: Although, might I suggest, next time there's a -- (laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Right, exactly. He looks wonderful in those striped ties. (Laughter.)

Q: I'd never get through vetting. (Laughter.)

Q: He has a lot of empathy. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Look, again, I don't know what 377 out of 380 is for a percentage. It would likely make you a unanimous first-ballot hall-of-famer in baseball. And I think, again, I think if you'd -- rather than --

Q: Does the White House find -- or why did not the White House find anything of disqualifying factor that six opinions, three reversals -- that's half the opinions in the Supreme Court review --

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, let's not use -- I appreciate the sort of clipped math in certain viewpoints to look at this. Understand that an appellate court judge is -- every one of their opinions could possibly be looked at. I mean, there aren't -- I appreciate that maybe you put in a certain colored folder an opinion that gets evaluated differently than another opinion. I have a feeling that's not actually the case. So I appreciate the six versus the 380. I think the totality of the record is one that's more important to look at, rather than, like I said, some out-of-context or clipped way of looking at it.

Q: Did the President or his legal team evaluate the Stefano case that's now before the Supreme Court? Did it come to any conclusions about the judge's rule in that particular case --

MR. GIBBS: Well, I would say --

Q: -- and how you think it might come up in the confirmation process and be explained during that process?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I mean, obviously I think -- obviously it was evaluated. I think quite honestly if you -- if your concern is judicial activism, then you have a hard time bringing this case up. You can't criticize somebody for ruling based on adhering strictly and strongly to the precedent of Second Circuit, in the case of -- in this case, of Hayden v. The County of Nassau, and Bushey v. The New York State Civil Service Commission. You can't criticize --

Q: -- precedential cases --

MR. GIBBS: You can't criticize somebody for being a judicial activist and somebody who understood and sympathized with both the plaintiffs in the case they were making, but handed down a decision based on precedent. Again, I think it will be interesting for whatever critics might emerge. You can't make two arguments that critique each other in saying that she shouldn't be -- shouldn't get somebody's support for the Supreme Court -- though I'd note on the Internet people are beginning to do exactly that.

I think going back to your earlier decision -- or your earlier question and my earlier statement is I would look at the totality of this and understand this is somebody that over the course of 17 years has adhered to precedent.

Q: Robert, could you put on -- I know you don't want to talk about it -- but your political hat for a minute. (Laughter.)

Q: It's the one with the pointy --

MR. GIBBS: It's the pointy hat? (Laughter.)

Q: The propeller hat. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Trust me, that's not the political hat. (Laughter.)

Q: There is likely to be -- in addition to some of the sort of reaction inside the Senate, there's already a campaign of sorts going on outside of the Senate, a political campaign among conservatives -- some Republicans, some conservatives.

Could you sort of say what the White House reaction is to the sort of coming fight not inside the Senate, but outside? And does the President rule out the idea of him going out to the -- you know, hold town hall meetings, to do some sort of political events -- which you guys have said is the kind of thing you guys do best, or he does best, at some level -- to kind of counter that political battle that's again --

(Cell phone rings.)

MR. GIBBS: Sorry, I looked right at the would-be culprit. (Laughter.)

Q: Everybody gets one --

MR. GIBBS: We won't use precedent in this case. (Laughter.)

Look, we all understand that there is to some degree a cottage industry that revs up during these sorts of confirmation hearings. The White House gets that. I don't think anybody that's spent any appreciable time in this town doesn't understand that.

I think, though, the President in the person that he's nominated, I think in many ways addresses whatever critiques you're hearing from one side or the other, and that is somebody, again, who -- there were people that said this is somebody that needs to have sufficient judicial experience. This person happens to possess more judicial experience than anybody that's been nominated in a century.

The President wanted somebody that adhered to the rule of law and to precedent. And this is somebody that does that. I think that -- look, I don't doubt that there are people that are going to make their arguments. I've seen and heard some of them today and I wonder whether or not those are people that are engaged more in interest group fundraising than they are in a genuine understanding of Judge Sotomayor's record and her qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court.

In terms of -- you know, I think the President is obviously enormously proud of the person that he's selected. I think he's likely to mention it this evening in Nevada. But I think the President believes that somebody that's gotten through the Senate twice and somebody with her distinguished record is somebody that he believes can get through the Senate.

Q: Do you feel like the Republicans, conservatives outside the Senate, might make some headway in reenergizing what has been a sort of problematic time for that party and for conservatives generally, by sort of focusing on -- not only on the judge, but also on casting the President in a more ideological way through -- with the choice?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I don't -- I guess my point, Michael, on this would be I don't think if you look at her experience and if you look at her rulings, that this is somebody that fits that bill. Now, again, I mentioned that interest groups might have sort of a cookie-cutter caricature of who they thought the President might nominate. But I think you can see out there, there are statements from Republican senators, there are statements from traditionally very conservative interest groups that denote the qualifications that Judge Sotomayor brings to this, and the fact that they share the President's belief that she'll be a good Supreme Court justice.

Q: Robert, just to follow up on that, there's seven sitting Republican senators who voted for her when she was nominated for the appeals court. I'm wondering if you think that for them to oppose her now would be a kind of hypocrisy?

MR. GIBBS: I think that -- again, I would note that this is somebody who was appointed by a Republican President and a Democratic President, once for the circuit court and the second time for the appellate court; somebody that's made it through and been confirmed twice by the Senate. I would give anybody the opportunity, and I will in this case, give people the opportunity to fully evaluate her record. I know that's what each of these senators will do, Republican and Democrat, and I wouldn't get in front of their ability.

Q: I asked specifically about the seven Republicans who already voted for her --

MR. GIBBS: No, I understand and I think they're certainly well positioned to support her again. How about that?

Ann.

Q: Is she Catholic and did the President ask her specifically about abortion or right to privacy?

MR. GIBBS: Well, there was no litmus test and the President did not ask that specifically. I believe she was raised Catholic.

Q: The President mentioned this morning and then the senior administration officials who briefed us also mentioned that she has the trial experience that Justice Souter had as well. How important was replacing a like justice with a like justice in this decision, and should we read into that for potentially another vacancy?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think, again -- I think most of all, as I discussed in here, as you heard the President even say from in here, that he was looking for somebody with a full range and a diverse set of experiences in their background. And I think this is somebody like Justice Souter that brings an array of experience potentially to the job.

So I think that the President sought somebody with that richness of experience and I think got somebody who meets that criteria.

Q: So the fact that they have loose similar backgrounds is more a coincidence, you're saying?

MR. GIBBS: I think it's probably -- comparing her to Souter is probably in many ways somewhat coincidental, but at the same time I think the President recognized, as I said, that being a prosecutor, being a private litigator, and being both a circuit and appellate court judge provides you with sort of a vast array of different legal experiences which makes Judge Sotomayor I think particularly compelling in this case.

Yes, sir.

Q: Is the President's decision to add this trip to Saudi Arabia the result of a specific proposal he discussed in the Netanyahu meetings last week? Is he looking to get the Arab states to perhaps make some gestures towards Israel to start the process going?

MR. GIBBS: This isn't based on any direct proposal out of that meeting. Again, the President believes it's an important opportunity to do and discuss important business like Middle East peace, but it's not borne out of anything specific.

April.

Q: Robert, two questions, one on North Korea. When did the Chinese get engaged, and what engagement is happening with the Chinese as it relates to North Korea?

MR. GIBBS: When did they get engaged?

Q: In this whole situation after the nuclear testing.

MR. GIBBS: Let me check with NSC, certainly on a particular tick-tock on their actions. I think the reaction -- I think you saw a not dissimilar reaction in 2006 from many of the same players.

Q: And the second question. Back on this YouTube video that you're shooting down -- yes, one of the videos is short in length, and another one is longer. And no matter what -- how long it was, these were her words, and disregarding the video itself, she did say it herself. And you speak of her experience. Now, because of her experience, do you think she has the authority to speak of the inner-workings to say that the appeals court does make policy?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, April, certainly you've seen the video. I understand it's her speaking.

Q: She recognized the cameras and the --

MR. GIBBS: Right, because she understands that what she's about to say is likely and largely to be misconstrued -- mission accomplished. (Laughter.) But I would certainly say that -- again, what I'm saying is, and I think what she would tell you, is if you look at the full context of what is being discussed here, I appreciate that in however many words I deliver in the time I'm up here today, you could clip six or eight of them together and ask somebody else about what I said. I would simply hope that you would read the full transcript of whatever my answer was and --

Q: Have you seen the video, the short and the long version?

MR. GIBBS: I have. I have. And I --

Q: Did she cause trouble. She's in trouble from it, isn't she? She's in trouble from it, isn't she?

MR. GIBBS: No, why -- I don't think that's the case at all.

Q: But it was her words that said, policy making, the appeals court. Policy making. You can not -- you can't spin it.

MR. GIBBS: April, just as I'm not going to judge your question, the entirety of your question, on three or four words, as you would be probably quick to scowl and cross your arms, and without me being able to see, tap your feet --

Q: Don't attack me; talk about the issue. Don't attack me. Talk about the issue; don't attack me.

MR. GIBBS: I'm not attacking you. I'm simply enjoining you in the richness of the dialogue that we're having. (Laughter.) But I think -- again, to understand -- I appreciate that -- again, I appreciate there are likely snippets of anything that anybody says that you could eventually say, I can't believe you just said that. And again, look at the quote. Don't take it from me, April. Have you looked at the long version?

Q: Oh, yes.

MR. GIBBS: Then I can only assume that you would come to the very same understanding of exactly what she's talking about. And if -- I think if you ask anybody in the legal world to denote the difference between what the circuit and what the appellate court does, I think in a very matter of fact, commonsense way, they will explain to you in both the short and the long version exactly what it is I just said.

Q: So there's no question she's not an activist judge.

MR. GIBBS: Again, don't -- do your listeners and everybody else that you talk to, do them the benefit of looking at exactly what she's written and exactly how she's ruled over 17 years on the federal bench; somebody who is going through and underscoring the strict precedent of the law that she's asked to look at, and ask yourself in any reasonable way could you say she's somebody that's legislating from the bench. The answer in any reasonable person's mind is going to be no.

Q: Just one question --

MR. GIBBS: I'm not so -- I'm going to go to George now. Maybe tomorrow. (Laughter.) I'm going to be here. Trust me, I missed out on a whole Vegas this hoopla.

Q: You sure did.

MR. GIBBS: You have that gleam in your eye, Lester, like I'm going to be here all day tomorrow.

Q: Robert, do you have any reaction to the California Supreme Court decision on Prop 8?

MR. GIBBS: I have not talked to the President about it. I think the issues involved are ones that you know where the President stands.

Thanks, guys.

END 3:48 P.M. EDT

Citation: Barack Obama: "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs", May 26, 2009. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=86235.
 
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