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Posted by on Sep 20, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

A Centrist’s Case For John Roberts

One of our all-time favorite centrist bloggers Bull Moose makes a convincing case for John Roberts’ confirmation as Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Looking at his analysis in detail:

Senator Moose would vote to confirm Roberts.*

The Moose knew of Judges Bork, Thomas and Scalia, although he was not their friend. And John Roberts is no Bork, Thomas or Scalia. Roberts has shown that he is no originalist extremist. He is apparently respectful of precedent. He has a modestly expansionist view of the commerce clause – he does not view the welfare state as unconstitutional. And he acknowledges a right to privacy. In sum, Roberts is a conventional conservative not a right wing revolutionary jurist.

People for the American Way knows this. The American people know this. The Family Research Council knows this. Ted Kennedy knows this. Sam Brownback knows this. And they will all take their predictable side on the question of his confirmation.

Exactly. Democrats have to make a fundamental choice: to oppose someone because he is a conservative (when Bush made it clear during both campaigns that he would seek conservative judges for the court — notwithstanding Ralph Nader’s self-serving claims that there were no differences between the two parties) or acknowledge that Roberts truly seems to be a conservative who thinks through issues rather than adheres to and follows a strict ideological line. Moose basically points out a sad rule of 21st century politics: people may know a reality but making a political statement to maintain a person or group’s political brand status may trump that reality. MORE:

John Roberts is not the Moose’s cup of tea. He will undoubtedly be far too deferential to corporate power. But, alas, his candidate for the Presidency lost. And one of the consequences of an election is that the winner chooses Supreme Court vacancies. The view from this bench is that the President gets the benefit of the doubt on nominations – elections have consequences. Make no mistake – the vacancy will be filled and Roberts is the best we will get from this President.

Precisely. The votes are there. And so are the poll numbers that show general support from the public.

Do Democrats in Congress want to not merely fall on their swords but shove their swords through their guts till their political entrails fall out on this one? And, if they do, then why not save that political drama for another day, for a Supreme Court nominee who is perhaps truly rigid ideologically so that it sends a message to centrists and independents (since we know already how Republicans and Democrats will react to X nominations). MORE:

Roberts receives only one cheer if that because he is a confirmation wimp, like so many other previous nominees. It was a sad spectacle to watch him dodge and weave fundamental questions about his intellectual world view – intellectual evasion in the pursuit of careerism. Honesty was the first casualty of the Bork imbroglio. One would think that conservatives, in particular, would want to be apprised of the views of an individual that will serve on the least-democratic branch of government.

True. The rules of the game have changed and the Roberts confirmation hearing style is what it’ll probably be from now on, no matter who controls the White House and proposes nominees. AND:

Probably, the majority of the Democratic Senators will oppose Roberts. That is tactically unfortunate because their opposition will have less resonance if the President truly nominates an extremist for the O’Connor vacancy – the donkey crying wolf syndrome. Is the Democratic Party merely the sum of its interest groups? It is not unlikely that a large number of Democrats prefer controversial issues such as gay marriage and the pledge of allegiance to be resolved in the legislative process rather than be circumvented by judicial fiat.

Sometimes, an opposition has to dare to say “yea.”

Indeed, the overall question since the votes aren’t there to stop Roberts, and Roberts is not an ideologically rigid nominee is this: what kind of image does the Democratic party wish to leave Americans with? Is this really the case on which the party needs to do a full court press? Some argue yes. Bull Moose argues no. And, certainly, Roberts has come across as thoughtful and reasonable. As Bull Moose notes, the danger is that by vehemently opposing the low-key Roberts any future Democratic opposition to a harder-line conservative will become like the terrorism color code system: it’ll elicit a big “been there/done that” yawn from the American public.

Picking and choosing your battles is an important skill for people — and parties.

UPDATE:
Andrew Sullivan:

I’m watching Hillary. If she votes no, then it seems to me that independents should be very leery of any attempt she makes to move to the center over the next couple of years….

Tom Watson also makes the case that Roberts should be confirmed. Read the whole post but here’s part of it:
In the last month, there has been only one face of competence peeking from out of the mountain of failure that is the Bush Administration: a single man whose public mien, seriousness of purpose, easy manner, strongly-held values, experience and engagement with the people of United States are obvious.

That man is John Roberts.

Judge Roberts is a conservative Republican, a product of the Reagan years, a middle-aged white man in a blue suit who seemed at first glance to be a walking mannequin in the shop window of the tax-cutting, wealth-rewarding upper middle-class GOP. He is not a jurist that a Democratic president would send to the Senate for Chief Justice. Given his service and his own published views (thin as they are, scarcely increased under questioning by the Senate) he seems not to be a man after my own political heart.

And yet, I think he should be confirmed – and I would urge my own Senators Schumer and Clinton to pull the “aye” lever under their desks, mid-term politics be damned.Now read his full explanation yasself…

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