RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday that judges who are not so-called "strict constructionists" threaten American democracy.
Giuliani, answering a question at a news conference about his support for abortion rights, veered into a broad criticism of the federal judiciary. He repeated his pledge to appoint strict constructionists to the federal bench.
"What 'strict constructionist' means is that a judge will interpret the Constitution in accordance with what someone else meant when they wrote those words and not try to legislate," the former New York mayor said. "If you are not a strict constructionist, I believe you imperil the American democracy because you take the role of a legislator."
As he has in the past, Giuliani said he would appoint judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, President Bush's appointees to the Supreme Court and two justices embraced by conservatives.
Throughout the campaign, Giuliani has struggled to square what he calls his personal opposition to terminating pregnancies with his long record of support for a woman's right to choose.
He was asked at the news conference to explain how he could support reproductive rights but at the same time promise to install justices whose strict constructionist views could threaten the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
He never answered directly. Strict constructionist thinking, he said, "goes way beyond any one issue. It goes beyond abortion, it goes beyond gun rights, it goes beyond free speech."
Giuliani's position on judicial appointments appears aimed at reassuring conservatives who might be edgy over his left-leaning views on abortion, gay rights and gun control.