Thursday, September 29, 2005
I predicted before the vote that Roberts would get between 70 and 75 votes for Chief. He got 78. Here are the 4 "aye" votes I did not anticipate:
Wyden seems like a good-government type; he probably voted his conscience, much as Russ Feingold of Wisconsin did. Murray is a genuine surprise to me; I had written her off as unredeemable. These Senators, along with Feingold and Leahy, deserve a gold star, as they certainly could have voted the other way without surprising anyone or paying a political price back home.
I will note that, before anyone did any hearings, right after the nominee was announced, I predicted that Roberts would win the following Senators' votes:
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)
Nelson, Ben (D-NE)
10-for-10 on that prediction (not that I was really going out on much of a limb with that one).
Beyond question, this demonstrates broad bi-partisan support for Roberts - a good thing, I think, for the judiciary and a testament above all to Roberts' judicial temperment. That doesn't mean Bush can't ever nominate a fire-breather (though, frankly, I hope not; I think all Justices should be principled, but also judicious, and "fire-breather" is not exactly congruent with the latter) but I think it's a good thing for the country that he didn't do so at least with his first nomination to the Court.
Before the committee vote, I had hoped to see Sentors Biden and Schumer vote yes, and I'm quite disappointed that they voted no. (Feingold was the third liberal Senator I was watching, and he came through.) Neither is a fool or a knave. But no one running for President on the Democratic ticket can give President Bush a Supreme Court nominee, period. Biden is running for President, and so is Hillary Clinton (and Schumer could hardly vote for Roberts and let her dangle without colleagial support). Even Evan Bayh voted no, an otherwise fairly inexplicable vote from the moderate Democratic Senator from Indiana. Of course, Senator Feingold is also running for President, but then again, Feingold is emblamatically his own man, planning to run as the heir to Eugene McCarthy, so he's going to be less susceptible to these kinds of pressures.
Oh, and in answer to Mickey Kaus's question: agreed. But I don't think Bush has forgotten McConnell's criticisms of a decision that was rather important to the President's career.
Who besides Michael McConnell would, in my view, be a good choice to replace O'Connor? I'm kind of warming towards the view that Bush should appoint someone with political as well as legal experience, simply because that kind of real-world experience could be a valuable corrective to a Court that (to pick an example of a Scalia-authored mess) voted to through out sentencing guidelines nationwide on a relatively novel (and not obviously cleaner) interpretation of the law. Two names that I don't know enough about but whose resumes fit: Ted Olson, former Solicitor General, and John Cornyn, Senator from Texas.
And, since O'Connor was not only a woman but also a former legislator, you'd still be in an important sense (a more important sense, actually) replacing her.
Ah, heck. I still want him to pick McConnell.