Tuesday, July 19, 2005

John Roberts Is Bush's Nominee for SCOTUS

So here's what I've gleaned so far about John Roberts, Bush's selection to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court:

  • He's young, only 50 years old. He'll have many, many years on the Court.
  • He's a rock-solid conservative. No swing voter here.
  • He's been a federal judge (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit) for only two years, so he doesn't have much of a paper trail.
  • Despite his relatively brief experience as a federal judge, he was the second highest lawyer arguing cases before the Supreme Court for four years.
  • He is considered very bright.
  • He knows his way around the Washington halls of power. He's worked at the White House, at the Department of Justice, and as special assistant to the attorney general and associate counsel to the president under Reagan. He clerked for Rehnquist.

Here are some reactions from the legal blogosphere:

Publius says he doesn't know a lot about Roberts (which seems to have been the point), but thinks it could have been a lot worse.

ACSblog looks to some of the cases Roberts has faced in his time on the federal bench. In a 2003 case in which the court declined to hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act in connection with a California real estate development project, Roberts was one of the dissenters. Presumably, Roberts was thus expressing his belief that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied to these facts. And Roberts ruled that a 12-year-old's equal protection rights had not been violated by a D.C. law (no longer on the books) that required D.C. police to arrest minors eating food on the metro while adults were only given a citation.

On Roe v. Wade, Roberts has been suitably cagy. In a Supreme Court brief he co-wrote, he said, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." But when pressed on the question during his 2003 confirmation hearings (for the federal bench), he hedged, "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

My view? I don't agree with those who say that because Roberts does not look like an ideologue, we should count our blessings and forget about the filibuster. Obviously, Bush was not going to pick anyone who supported a woman's right to control what happens to her uterus, or who was concerned about the environment, or who believed in civil liberties or the rights of the individual. I think that, as liberals, we have been trained to expect the worst, and if we get less than that, sigh with relief and say okay, we don't want to be unreasonable. It's time for us to turn that attitude around and do like Republicans do: Expect to get 100 percent of what we want, fight like hell for it, and never be content with less -- even if sometimes we must temporarily accept less.

The Senate Judiciary Committee should question Roberts fearlessly and assertively, and if his answers do not show him to be a justice who will consistently uphold the intent and spirit of the Constitution and not just its literal words, refuse to confirm him.

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