SOUTER IN ROBERTS' CLOTHING
July 20, 2005
After pretending to consider various women and minorities for the Supreme Court these past few weeks, President Bush decided to disappoint all the groups he had just ginned up and nominate a white male.
So all we know about him for sure is that he can't dance and he probably doesn't know who Jay-Z is. Other than that, he is a blank slate. Tabula rasa. Big zippo. Nada. Oh, yeah ... We also know he's argued cases before the Supreme Court. Big deal; so has Larry Flynt's attorney.
But unfortunately, other than that that, we don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.
Since the announcement, court-watchers have been like the old Kremlinologists from Soviet days looking for clues as to what kind of justice Roberts will be.
-- Will he let us vote?
-- Does he trust democracy? Or will he make all the important decisions for us and call them "constitutional rights"?
-- Does he live in a small, rough-hewn cabin in the woods of New Hampshire and avoid "womenfolk"?
It means absolutely nothing that NARAL and Planned Parenthood attack him: They also attacked Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Hackett Souter.
The only way a Supreme Court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial-birth one.
It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:
"In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-'93 term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States."
This would have been the legal equivalent, after O.J.'s acquittal, of Johnnie Cochran saying: "Hey, I never said the guy was innocent. I was just doing my job."
And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter.
I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."
From the theater of the absurd category, the Republican National Committee's "talking points" on Roberts provide this little tidbit:
"In the 1995 case of Barry v. Little, Judge Roberts argued -- free of charge --before the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of a class of the neediest welfare recipients, challenging a termination of benefits under the District's Public Assistance Act of 1982."
I'm glad to hear the man has a steady work record, but how did this make it to the top of his resume?
Bill Clinton goes around bragging that he passed welfare reform, which was, admittedly, the one public policy success of his entire administration (passed by the Republican Congress). But now apparently Republicans want to pretend we're the party of welfare queens! Soon the RNC will be boasting that Republicans want to raise your taxes and surrender in the war on terrorism, too.
Finally, let's ponder the fact that Roberts has gone through 50 years on this planet without ever saying anything controversial. That's just unnatural. By contrast, I held out for three months, tops, before dropping my first rhetorical bombshell, which I think was about Agnew.
It's especially unnatural for someone who is smart, and there's no question but that Roberts is smart. If a smart and accomplished person goes this long without expressing an opinion, he'd better be pursuing the Miss America title.
Apparently, Roberts decided early on that he wanted to be on the Supreme Court and that the way to do that was not to express a personal opinion on anything to anybody ever. It's as if he is from some space alien sleeper cell. Maybe the space aliens are trying to help us, but I wish we knew that.
If the Senate were in Democrat hands, Roberts would be perfect. But why on earth would Bush waste a nomination on a person who is a complete blank slate when we have a majority in the Senate! We also have a majority in the House, state legislatures, state governorships, and have won five of the last seven presidential elections -- seven of the last 10!
We're the Harlem Globetrotters now. Why do we have to play like we're the Washington Generals every week?
Conservatism is sweeping the nation, we have a fully functioning alternative media, we're ticked off and ready to avenge Robert Bork ... and Bush nominates a Rorschach blot.
Even as they are losing voters, Democrats don't hesitate to nominate reliable left-wing lunatics like Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lifetime tenure on the high court. And the vast majority of Americans loathe her views.
As I've said before, if a majority of Americans agreed with liberals on abortion, gay marriage, pornography, criminals' rights and property rights -- liberals wouldn't need the Supreme Court to give them everything they want through invented "constitutional rights" invisible to everyone but People for the American Way. It's always good to remind voters that Democrats are the party of abortion, sodomy and atheism, and nothing presents an opportunity to do so like a Supreme Court nomination.
The Democrats' own polls show that voters are no longer fooled by claims that the Democrats are trying to block "judges who would roll back civil rights." Borking is over.
And Bush responds by nominating a candidate who will allow Democrats to avoid fighting on their weakest ground: substance. He has given us a Supreme Court nomination that will placate no liberals and should please no conservatives.
Maybe Roberts will contravene the sordid history of "stealth nominees" and be the Scalia or Thomas that Bush promised us when he was asking for our votes. Or maybe he won't. The Supreme Court shouldn't be a game of Russian roulette.
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