July 22, 2005


The Nominee As a Young Pragmatist: Under Reagan, Roberts Tackled Tough Issues (Jo Becker and Amy Argetsinger, July 22, 2005, Washington Post)

As an up-and-coming young lawyer in the White House counsel's office from 1982 to 1986, John G. Roberts Jr. weighed in on some of the most controversial issues facing the Reagan administration, balancing conservative ideology with a savvy political pragmatism and a confidence that belied his years.

Asked to review legislation that would have prohibited lower federal courts from ordering busing to desegregate public schools, Roberts, now President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, took on no less a conservative legal scholar than Theodore B. Olson, who at the time was an assistant attorney general and later served as the solicitor general under Bush.

Olson had argued that based on his reading of case law, Congress could not flatly prohibit the busing of children to achieve racial balance in public schools. That argument did not impress Roberts, who was two weeks past his 29th birthday.

"I do not agree," Roberts wrote to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding in a memo dated Feb. 15, 1984. Congress has the authority "and can conclude -- the evidence supports this -- that busing promotes segregation rather than remedying it, by precipitating white flight."

But, he added, "Olson's view has already gone forward as the Administration view, and it would probably not be fruitful to reopen the issue at this point."

The memo -- and others like it that are available at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. -- offers a revealing glimpse into the mind of a judge whose relatively short two-year tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has produced few clues on how he would vote on key issues facing the high court.

Federalist Affiliation Misstated: Roberts Does Not Belong to Group (Charles Lane, July 21, 2005, Washington Post)
Everyone knows that, like all good Republican lawyers, John G. Roberts Jr. is a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative law and public policy organization where right-of-center types meet to denounce liberalism and angle for jobs in the Bush administration.

And practically everyone -- CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Legal Times and, just yesterday, The Washington Post -- has reported Roberts's membership as a fact. One liberal group opposed to Roberts's nomination, the Alliance for Justice, has noted it on its Web site.

But they are wrong. John Roberts is not, in fact, a member of the Federalist Society, and he says he never has been.

"He has no recollection of ever being a member," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman who contacted reporters to correct the mistake yesterday.

She said that Roberts recalls speaking at Federalist Society forums (as have lawyers and legal scholars of various political stripes). But he has apparently never paid the $50 annual fee that would make him a full-fledged member.

Racist cheapskate? States-rights crypto-liberal?

Clues on how Roberts might act on high court: His record while at a federal appeals court, though sparse, shows a resistance to limits on presidential power. (Warren Richey, 7/22/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

In his two years as a member of the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., Judge John Roberts has helped decide more than 120 cases. [...]

Among cases drawing considerable interest are those in which Roberts:

• Upheld the president's authority to conduct terrorism tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

• Raised questions in a dissent about whether the commerce clause authorizes enforcement of the Endangered Species Act in certain cases.

• Upheld the arrest of a 12-year-old girl apprehended for eating a single French fry in a subway station.

"The one thing that seems pretty clear is that he is very strong on resisting any limits on presidential power," says William Marshall, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill.


Posted by Orrin Judd at July 22, 2005 12:00 AM

Me, I'd like him to be a judge. Quickly.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 22, 2005 1:22 AM


Posted by: ghostcat at July 22, 2005 2:32 AM

I ask liberals if they have heard Roberts belongs to Opus Dei.

Posted by: David at July 22, 2005 7:21 AM

What everyone knows is that what you read in the newspapers must be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Posted by: erp at July 22, 2005 7:49 AM

>"The one thing that seems pretty clear is that he is very strong on resisting any limits on presidential power," says William Marshall, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill.

Um, or maybe that no case that has come before him has actually involved any illegitimate use of presidential power?

Posted by: at July 22, 2005 8:58 AM


Does he?

If he did belong to Opus Dei, given that Robert Hansson was a member, it would probably be something the MSM would consider a positive.

Posted by: bart at July 22, 2005 9:32 AM

Bart...I have no idea. Considering his schedule, I would doubt it.

A fun question to ask liberals however. More and more the left is becoming the right of the 1950s who thought Eisenhower a commie and were worried about floride in the water.

Posted by: David at July 23, 2005 2:21 AM