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Excerpts of Remarks in Council Bluffs, Iowa

July 17, 2007

Mayor Giuliani On His Commitment To Appoint Strict Constructionist Judges

"I believe that one of the most important responsibilities of the President of the United States … is the people you select to be federal judges — the judges that you put on the bench. And the reason for that is unlike a lot of state and local judges, federal judges are appointed for life. So when they go on the bench, there's no chance if you made a mistake to fix it. They're there forever. And therefore, the way in which they interpret the Constitution is enormously important, and that's why in the twelve commitments that I made … the one I'm going to talk about today is that we have to appoint strict constructionist judges and reform the legal system. …

"We need judges who are going to interpret the Constitution and try to figure out what other people meant when they wrote the words. Not what they would like it to mean. And that's why I would appoint judges like Chief Justice Roberts or Justice [Alito], both of whom I worked within the Justice Department. Or Justice Scalia who I also worked with in the Justice Department years before that. And Justice Thomas. …

"[T]hese are the kinds of judges I would appoint, and I really would know how to do it. I spent a lot of my life being a lawyer, being in court. I spent a lot of my life in the Justice Department. And years ago, back in 1981, 1982, I was the third ranking official in the Justice Department under President Reagan. And every … Thursday afternoon we went to a meeting at the White House. We'd go over to the White House and sit down at a big table in the Roosevelt Room with all of the people in the Reagan administration. … And I watched many of the Reagan judges being appointed. And the fact is that he did a very, very good job … selecting really good judges who interpret the Constitution in a way that will protect your rights and my rights. They will not get it into their heads that they're really legislators and they can go around changing things. They're there to interpret things, not to change things. You have legislators to change things. And you can affect that. You can vote them into office. You can vote them out of office. You have mayors, governors and presidents to execute the law. The legislature makes the law. The executive executes the law, carries it out, and the judiciary interprets the law. It's pretty simple but really important that we keep it that way, and I would be committed to keeping it that way."

Mayor Giuliani On His Commitment To Reform The Legal System

"The second part of my commitment about the legal system is we have to reform it. … The legal system is so out of control. And the Democrats aren't going to do anything about it. They're not going to do anything about it at all. They're going to just make it worse. … If you elect me President, I will do something about it. We'll change the legal system. We'll reform it. We'll make it like a legal system should be — where the real key is to protect the victims and not the lawyers.

"So how do you do that? … What we could do is we could say, when a lawsuit ends … if you lose the lawsuit, the judge has the right to ask you to show why you brought the lawsuit in the first place. What basis did you have for it? Was it a sensible reason where minds could differ or were you just being abusive? And if you're just being abusive, then the judge should have to charge that person … And he should have to pay whatever costs they incurred for his bringing this abusive lawsuit. If we did that, we'd cut down on some of these abusive lawsuits.

"And then if we also cap damages. So if people get money, it should be related to economic loss … Damages should be capped that way. And finally, so should legal fees. … The Democratic Party doesn't want to change it. They keep telling you, they're the party of the people. I mean, I don't know when that was, but it's been a long time since the Democratic Party has been the party of the people. They're the party of the trial lawyers. They're the party of the personal injury lawyers. They mean a lot more than the people. Otherwise, you wouldn't allow a system like this to continue and to flourish. I'll change the system because I really believe in the rights of the people. I really believe you're more important than the trial lawyers. You're more important than the negligence lawyers. It's your rights that have to be protected. They shouldn't be running this whole system for their benefit. I didn't become a lawyer to watch the legal system become a system in which lawyers can milk it for millions and millions of dollars and leave people with very, very little. It just isn't right. And if you make me President, I'll change it."

Rudy Giuliani, Excerpts of Remarks in Council Bluffs, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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