Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Who Will the Opponents Be? Probably the Same Old Gang

Don't expect any real surprises when John Roberts comes up for a full vote in the Senate some time late this summer. It hasn't been 24 hours since President Bush raised the curtain on his young, fresh-looking, and quick-on-his-feet SCOTUS nominee who delivered a brief but heartfelt speech to the White House Press Corps without using notes or a teleprompter. ABC News' The Note called the Roberts roll-out which culminated last night "THE best handled and well-researched process ever" for a Supreme Court nominee. It's been less than a full day, but already, the well-spoken Roberts seems - though it is early - to be on the path towards confirmation.

As of the work day's end, there were no on-the-record statements of opposition to Roberts. There were plenty of voices of support. There were no vocal suggestions that the filibuster was an option currently being seriously considered. There were plenty of threatening words used to dissade potential filibusters, though. Anyone expecting Democrats to prevail in the fight against Roberts will almost surely be disappointed, largely because the soldiers on their side will be few in number and most likely low on energy. They're going to be the regular old gang - Boxer, Kerry, and Kennedy, among others - who seem to stand in the way of every piece of legislation that comes out of the White House or the Republican leadership.

Don't get me wrong - 98% of the time, they're more on the money than anyone else and they are to be applauded for speaking out and not giving into the majority. But this time, I fear, they're going to be on the wrong side of the aisle. A "good judge" is not someone who's necessarily going to commit to overturning Roe vs. Wade or to upholding it. It's not someone who says he interprets the Second Amendment as allowing individuals to own semi-automatic guns or not. As much as I, and, I presume, many of our readers, would like to see the Supreme Court not restrict the right to an abortion or loosen gun control laws, a "good judge" is someone who decides on the merits of each case and interprets the law with an impartial, open mind. That's a judge. Someone who commits to doing this and doing that and having this viewpoint and having that one is a politician. There is a great difference between the two.

6 Comments:

At 1:49 PM, Blogger wfoley said...

guys, check out this post on Hatch. The techies are after him.
http://www.windley.com/archives/2005/07/beating_hatch.shtml

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous The other Jack said...

Roberts isn’t the main problem. Considering who nominated him, it is to be expected that he is a conservative ex-corporate lawyer. What concerns me is his age. Since he's only 50, he has the potential to serve over 30 years. Although he seems qualified to serve, the real reason he has been nominated is because he's so young. There is no point, however, in pointing the blame at Bush for this, because he is merely using good strategy by appointing a younger person who also has a shorter record to scrutinize. It's one thing to load up the court with conservatives, but it's another to know that they'll be there forever. In this discussion, I would also like to take into consideration William Rhinequist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He lies on the other side of the age spectrum. Rhinequist, who is very old and has cancer, should not still be serving in the highest court in the land. I seem to be contradicting myself by complaining about both Rhinquist's and Roberts's respective ages, but I'm not. What I am talking about is reforming the term lengths for Justices. All of the states have a capped age on Justices in their respective state Supreme Courts. The age limit in New Jersey, for example, is 70. This is sensible not only because it prevents really old people from making laws, but also because it ensures that Justices serve on a semi-rotating basis. Because of the importance of rotation in a liberal democracy, it seems that U.S. Supreme Court Justices should not be appointed to life terms. Instead of capping the age, an even more sensible solution would be for them to serve set terms, such as staggering 9 year terms with no chance of being renominated. It seems that Roberts will be approved, so that may not be the main issue here. More than anything else, I am upset about his potential lifelong term, which ensures that, at least in the near future, the Court will be stacked with conservatives. This is not the complaint of some left-wing hippie but one of someone who likes to see a political balance in the highest court in his country.

 
At 2:27 PM, Anonymous The other Jack said...

Roberts isn’t the main problem. Considering who nominated him, it is to be expected that he is a conservative ex-corporate lawyer. What concerns me is his age. Since he's only 50, he has the potential to serve over 30 years. Although he seems qualified to serve, the real reason he has been nominated is because he's so young. There is no point, however, in pointing the blame at Bush for this, because he is merely using good strategy by appointing a younger person who also has a shorter record to scrutinize. It's one thing to load up the court with conservatives, but it's another to know that they'll be there forever. In this discussion, I would also like to take into consideration William Rhinequist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He lies on the other side of the age spectrum. Rhinequist, who is very old and has cancer, should not still be serving in the highest court in the land. I seem to be contradicting myself by complaining about both Rhinquist's and Roberts's respective ages, but I'm not. What I am talking about is reforming the term lengths for Justices. All of the states have a capped age on Justices in their respective state Supreme Courts. The age limit in New Jersey, for example, is 70. This is sensible not only because it prevents really old people from making laws, but also because it ensures that Justices serve on a semi-rotating basis. Because of the importance of rotation in a liberal democracy, it seems that U.S. Supreme Court Justices should not be appointed to life terms. Instead of capping the age, an even more sensible solution would be for them to serve set terms, such as staggering 9 year terms with no chance of being renominated. It seems that Roberts will be approved, so that may not be the main issue here. More than anything else, I am upset about his potential lifelong term, which ensures that, at least in the near future, the Court will be stacked with conservatives. This is not the complaint of some left-wing hippie but one of someone who likes to see a ideological balance in the highest court in his country.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks for visiting our site, Jack.

I strongly disagree with what you're saying, though. In fact, it seems eerily similar to the proposal of a certain power-grabbing president this country had in office about seven decades ago.

The idea of the judiciary is that it's independent. In fact, that's the idea of the legislature and the executive, too, but for slightly different reasons. Judges are not in office to represent the views of the masses. The idea that they might have to be subject to term limits, or, even more objectionable to me, age limits, defeats the purpose that the judicial branch was set out to fulfill.

Roberts isn't the main problem - in fact, he isn't a problem at all. He is seen as a fair-minded judge (read the feature article on the Op-Ed page in this morning's Times) who is a student of the court. I see it as a good thing, not a drawback, that he's young, as he'll have ample time to develop into an even-handed presence. Conservative or liberal - it doesn't matter to me. Fairness is what I'm concerned with.

 
At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Jacob A. said...

Sam-- you mentioned fairness and impartiality. Yet, how can one expect fairness from someone whose commitment is towards upholding the values of only the republican party? On important legal issues such as the environment, abortion and affirmative action, Roberts has clearly shown us where his allegiance lies. As counsel in the Reagan and Bush administration, Roberts showed hostility towards civil rights. In addition to possessing an inveterate devotion to the Republican party (let me here correct myself: as you mentioned, I believe correctly, Roberts is devoted not to one party or another. Instead, he is in my opinion devoted to a party's specific stance on issues--here, the Republican party. So I should say that Roberts is devoted to upholding what I see as being the typically Republican "worldview"), Roberts lacks experience as a judge. Of course, his entire career has revolved around the law and its many aspects; however, Roberts has served as a circuit judge for what is considered to be a short amount of time. When you wrote that there was little "on-record" opposition in the Senate, this may be because Roberts' short time as judge has not allowed for his opinions to provide much ammunition for opposing senators.

 
At 9:03 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Jacob - good to hear from you again. Next Thursday PM sound good for you?

About your post... Roberts has not professed his own opinions on abortion, which is, as you know, the biggest issue being lobbed around. Fourteen years ago, he signed his name to a brief that said that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided." I'm not predisposed to supporting this guy, but I'm also not so sure that his stance on abortion is very deeply-rooted. Since '91 when he wrote the brief, he has only moderated his stance on Roe.

He may be more conservative on the abortion issue - and the others that you mentioned and that may be at stake - than he's made clear. But let's give him the chance to really make the case for himself as someone who could be a fair-minded presence on the Court. You can't expect him or any other justice to be opinionless - that isn't the goal.

(The one thing that bothers me and that I want to read more about is his role in the 2000 Election in Florida. Apparently he advised Jeb as to how he could legally declare GWB the winner by going through loopholes in various statutes. To me, this possibility is dangerous in that it would show him to be someone who sees the law as a tool to be used for individual gain. THAT, to me, is what you don't want to see in a judge, not a "wrong" stance on a certain issue.)

 

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