Wednesday, July 20, 2005
What an excellent choice. When O'Connor retired, I suggested that President Bush should appoint a replacement "who has solid conservative legal principles but a pragmatic case of mind." Now he has. I said Roberts was my top choice after McConnell (and, honestly, the only reason McConnell was first is I know more about his views, and like them, rather than anything negative I know about Roberts). It's always gratifying on those rare occasions when the President listens to me.
And it's very gratifying that the President didn't see the need to appoint a Hispanic Justice, or a female Justice, just because the retiring Justice was a woman. No nominee deserves the contempt of being considered an affirmative-action pick, and such a suspicion was certainly hovering in the air when people discussed Clement and Gonzales. It's also very encouraging that the President did not nominate a crony.
Roberts is so good, and so clearly has the demeanor and the chops to do the job, that frankly I'm inclined to change my earlier advice to the President. I now think he'd be well-advised, when Chief Justice Rehnquist retires, to elevate Roberts to Chief and nominate someone else to fill an Associate slot.
As for this confirmation fight: there won't be one. I would be profoundly shocked to find any kind of scandal in Roberts' closet, even the pseudo-scandals that have so obsessed Washington in past confirmation fights. No Democrat under any kind of serious threat of Republican challenge can fail to confirm Roberts, and no Republican will defect. Roberts will get 55 Republican votes plus at least 5 of the following Democrats:
Lieberman (D-CT) - he's under no threat of challenge, but he's actually got some integrity
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)
Nelson, Ben (D-NE)
Red-state Democratic Senators will not want to be on record of having opposed someone as manifestly qualified - in terms of experience and intellect, but also in terms of temperment - as Roberts. I think it's quite likely that Roberts wins all of the above votes, plus centrist Democratic party leaders like Bayh and Reid. There will be no filibuster.
I actually think Roberts is something of a test. If opposition extends beyond the Boxer/Murray idiot fringe, I think that profoundly discredits the Democratic Party. There is no plausible argument that Roberts is an "extremist" or lacks a judicial temperment. There is no plausible argument against him on the grounds that he has manifested a judicial philosophy with which most Americans do or should disagree. And the notion that if Roberts does not satisfy some inquisition about how he would vote on this or that case that might come before him is both ludicrous and corrupting of the law itself - not to mention insulting to the nominee. Quite literally, the only grounds for not voting to confirm would be: I think he will rule the "wrong" way on substance on a matter I care about. Not only is that not a valid reason to vote not to confirm, but voting in such a way quite plainly states that the Senator in question does not believe that the Supreme Court is a Court, but rather that it is a legislature.
There are Senators within the Democratic Party of whom I expect nothing. But I'm going to be watching a few liberal lions who are *not* idiots quite closely. If Senators Biden, Feingold and Schumer do not vote to confirm, they will earn my contempt - and however often I have disagreed with them in the past, "contempt" is not how I would have described my feelings.