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It’s been more than six months since ex-independent counsel Kenneth Starr stepped out of public view. But just when he thinks he’s post-Lewinsky, another best-seller dredges up the past. The most recent offering, “Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton,” by Susan Schmidt and Michael Weisskopf, portrays Starr not as a sexual inquisitor but as a nebbishy lawyer, ill-equipped to cope with the excesses of his own prosecutors. Starr has had little public comment on the postmortems, perhaps because he is at work on his own tome — which deals not with the Hill and Bill investigation, but with the Supreme Court. “Search For The Center: The Supreme Court In American Life” will be published by Warner Books in the fall of 2001. Reporter Douglas McCollam talks with Starr about his book, his future, and why he wishes he’d never heard the name Monica Lewinsky. American Lawyer: Your book deals with the search for the “center ground” by the Court during the last quarter-century, but it could be argued that the Court has moved substantially to the right. Starr: My view is that the current Court simply follows a more traditional mode of constitutional interpretation than did the Warren Court. For example, in Miranda the methodology is legislative-type fact-finding — the Court reviewed various police manuals from around the country to fashion the famous warnings. That type of methodology would never be used by the current justices and is quite unusual for a constitutional Court. The Warren Court could have rested some of those cases on theories of equality, as opposed to sociology, and arrived at the same result. I think in Brown it would have. In Miranda it would not have; you would never have had a set of specific rules. AL: Another case that I know our readers will be interested in your take on is 1997′s Clinton v. Jones. Judge Richard Posner called the decision not to give presidents at least limited immunity from suit during their term “a really, really bad mistake” by the Court. What is your view? Starr: With all respect, the Court was exactly right, and Judge Posner [of the 7th Circuit] is quite wrong — although if he was correct, I would be sitting in Malibu, Calif., as dean of Pepperdine Law School, so I only wish that he were. The president’s “temporary deferral” claim was constitutionally mushy and entirely unrooted in the traditions, laws, and practices of the country. Now, that is not to say there might not be a problem. This is a litigious age. My position was: Fine — go to Congress and get relief. AL: Let’s discuss your plans. There have been reports that there is an internal conflict at your old firm Kirkland & Ellis regarding your return. Will you be going back? Starr: I’m on leave of absence, but it is my intention to return to the firm and the full-time practice of law once my book is completed in September. That has been my intent all along. AL: Will you be going back to the position you formerly held? Starr: I’ll just refer you to the firm with respect to that. I don’t discuss the specifics of the arrangement, but I’m very much looking forward to returning. AL: Do you have any reaction to the fact that Kirkland’s political action committee and many of the lawyers have made substantial contributions to Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate campaign? Starr: That’s the business of the firm’s PAC, for which I have no responsibility at all. It’s a determination by those who administer the PAC as to what is the wise and prudent thing to do. I have no interest whatever in being involved in the PAC. AL: The recent book “Truth at Any Cost” reported that you now regret taking on the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Could you expound on that? Starr: Well, there were serious allegations of perjury and subornation of perjury against the president that had to be investigated. However, in light of what transpired, it would have been better if the attorney general could have appointed another individual to handle it. Our investigation had been in place for several years and had expended sums of money. Those were used as political talking points against us in the spin cycle. AL: The charges against the president arose within the Paula Jones litigation. Why not let her attorneys question and depose witnesses and see what comes out instead of getting ahead of things? Starr: Easy to say in retrospect, and perhaps other persons would have made that decision. But not a single person suggested that course in our office or in the leadership of the Justice Department. Given that one of the witnesses in our own investigation was being asked to file a perjurious affidavit, it would have been remarkably lame to sit by and let that go on, smugly pretending that we need not worry about it. To turn a blind eye to allegations that the president of the United States was carrying out these actions was unacceptable. AL: Another item reported in “Truth at Any Cost” was that you had your staff prepare a draft indictment of the president. Starr: I’m not going to comment on that. I’m just not going to comment with respect to that at all. AL: Should we read anything into the fact that you recently gave an address to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a group pushing for the president’s disbarment? Starr: Well, tomorrow I’ll be at the Kennedy School of Government, so should you read something into that? I’ve probably given 50-60 speeches in the last six months. Happily, as a private citizen I am able to exercise my First Amendment rights in a cheerful and agreeable way. On disbarment, I have no opinion. It’s important for that process to be evaluated fairly. That means an analysis of all the facts and an evaluation of the action taken in comparable situations by the bar committee in Arkansas. It is important to be fair. AL: Do you worry about your ability to go back into private practice, given your notoriety? Starr: I think one has to divide the world of law from the world of politics. My world is the law, and I’m very comfortable in that world. As is painfully apparent, I have not lived in the political world. I’ve made my professional choice to remain in the more orderly, reasoned, and deliberative world of law. For all its imperfections, it’s a good world.

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