July 19, 2005


Roberts Not Overly Conservative (RON FOURNIER, July 19, 2005, The Associated Press)

President Bush gave the right wing what it wanted, a certified conservative who could tip the Supreme Court to the right. At the same time, he robbed liberals of what they sought _ a fire-breathing ideologue who would trigger an epic fight.

In selecting Judge John G. Roberts, Bush sought to put his conservative stamp on the high court for the next generation or so, while making it hard for Democrats to stop him. [...]

Democrats acknowledged privately that Roberts' record does not lend itself easily to attack. There will be a fight, they predicted, but it will likely not be nuclear. Certainly, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid did not sound like a man throwing down the gauntlet when he said, "The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry."

Even the criticism of special interest groups sounded halfhearted. "John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way. He expressed disappointment in the pick, but did not call on Democrats to defeat it.

Feel free to post your mea culpas here.

Bush Rises to the Occasion: The Roberts pick is courageous and important. (William Kristol, 07/19/2005, Weekly Standard)

WITH THE SUPREME COURT PICK of John Roberts, George W. Bush rose to the occasion.

The occasion was an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court. Bush seized the opportunity, in two ways: He moved the Court a solid step to the right (to speak vulgarly), and he elevated its quality. It's true that Roberts is a Rehnquist, not a Scalia or a Thomas. He'll be a little more incremental, a little more cautious, than some of us rabid constitutionalists will sometimes like. But he is a conservative pick, and a quality pick--and, to my surprise, a non-PC, non-quota pick.

-Bush Picks Roberts for Supreme Court Nominee (Fox News, July 19, 2005)
While many names had been floated as the possible Supreme Court pick, one certainty was that the nominee was going to be conservative.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the so-called "Gang of 14" senators who crafted an agreement that called for the use of a judicial filibuster only in "extraordinary circumstances," said he had met with Roberts before his nomination to the Circuit Court and he was happy to vote for him then and again now.

"He's a well-respected lawyer, 153 lawyers in the D.C. area [were] supporting his nomination to the Court of Appeals," Graham told FOX News, referring to a letter of support Roberts won in 2003.

Earlier in the day, Graham argued that Democrats should not be surprised by the nomination of a conservative to the bench. Graham noted that simply being conservative was "no longer an extraordinary circumstance" as defined by the "Gang of 14" agreement.

"President Bush campaigned he would pick a solid conservative, I expect for him to live up to his promise. Our goal is to make sure a solid conservative sits on the Supreme Court that is not beholden to any special interest group," Graham said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., was called to the White House on Monday to discuss the timing of an announcement. Specter, who will lead the confirmation process in the Senate, has said he hoped Bush would select a jurist who will bring "balance" to the court. On Tuesday evening, however, Specter said Roberts had "extraordinary professional qualifications.

"I would say professionally, it would be hard to find someone with better credentials than Judge Roberts, but you ask a question whether it's a safe nomination. I don't know that anything in Washington is safe if it's a nomination," Specter said. "Let's give the hearing process a chance and let's give Roberts a hearing. I'm just a little surprised that he's already subject to criticism, but this is America."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2005 11:16 PM

"I'm just a little surprised that he's already subject to criticism, but this is America."

No - this is Chuck Schumer's America!

Posted by: obc at July 20, 2005 12:28 AM

Judge Roberts and his wife, Jane Marie Sullivan, also a lawyer, live in Chevy Chase, Md., and have two children, Jack, 4, and Josephine, 5. Friends described the couple as devout Catholics.


Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 20, 2005 3:24 AM

Anyone else catch the reporter John Roberts on CBS introducing Bush's announcement? Afterward, he signed off with with an emphasized, "I'm John Roberts..."

Posted by: RC at July 20, 2005 6:12 AM

A hopeful but not ballsy pick. An unknown in many respects. Looking forward to the hearings. The "devout Catholic" part immediately ushers 44 senators against him because he's obviously out of the mainstream.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 20, 2005 8:25 AM

The NY Times is calling for him to be closely scrutinized and complains that his record on controversial matters is a bit thin, but he is 'worrisome' on abortion.

I repeat, my standard is whatever causes gnashing of teeth, rending of garments or calls for mass action at the Times Editorial Board.

Posted by: bart at July 20, 2005 8:28 AM

The "worrisome on abortion" part of the Times' editorial was probably written the day after Gore conceeded the Florida recount vote in December 2000. It was just a matter of plugging the name of whomever Bush nominated into the proper hole.

As for the mea culpas, it's Bush's lack of elequence and his infrequency of public appearances to promote his own agenda, combined with the memories of his dad's foul-up in trusting John Sununu on David Souter that made so many conservatives get as wound up as Jack Nicholson on a three-day coffee binge over who GWB would finally select. Expect the same thing to happen when Rhenquist finally steps down (which still will be nothing in comparison to the reaction of the left if Ginsburg decides to retire).

Posted by: John at July 20, 2005 9:25 AM