July 19, 2005

SCOTUS Nominee: Judge John Roberts

The President has nominated a judge from the DC Appeals Circuit, John Roberts, Jr., to take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat when she retires from the Supreme Court. He's 50 years old, so he's young. He has a host of academic credentials including Harvard BA and JD, so he's smart. He was a seasoned lawyer for private practice and for the government, including as Solicitor General, and argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court, so he's experienced.

He's been mentioned before as a good pick to avoid a major confirmation fight by Lieberman, but he's also one of the most respected conservative lawyers and jurists in the country. He's not so outspoken a conservative as Scalia or Thomas, but he's very likely a solid conservative in more of a Rehnquist style (he clerked for Rehnquist).

Leahy and Schumer in a press conference immediately following the President's 9 pm announcement seemed to be gearing up for criticizing Roberts without committing themselves. Leahy said the usual stuff that it's a serious, long-lasting confirmation, that it's important and a thorough hearing should be made. But then he also said that O'Connor was a valuable and talented moderate jurist, which is fine by itself but a good setup to try and contrast Roberts negatively against O'Connor.

More ominously is that Schumer said that Roberts should have to answer many questions of a probing nature, and that Schumer voted against him for the DC circuit because he didn't answer enough questions. I've already blogged about my anger at Schumer for refusing to understand the ethical issues behind judicial impartiality, but I think Roberts should be fine using the same statement that Ginsburg used to avoid answering some questions in her hearing.

I think Roberts will be confirmed if only because Lieberman forwarded him as a compromise candidate; that suggests that the Republicans will hold at least 50 of their Senators and get some Democrats. I want to say that the confirmation will be smooth but the leftwing advocates are too geared up for war to back down now. They're going to unleash their full activity and they'll pull Democrats with them. In the end I think enough of the Gang of 14 Democrats will back the nomination that he'll be passed. The consultation with the Democrats meant that the President spoke to 3/4 of the Democratic caucus, so they can't say that Bush didn't consult.

The Democrats want somebody to hate, and if the left moves fast they will be able to demonize Roberts enough to convince lefties that Roberts is evil and should be blocked. But my prediction is a successful confirmation.


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