Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What Kind of Guy Is Judge John Roberts?

Many doubted President Bush would name a true conservative to the Supreme Court, but yesterday he kept his promise. Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference (website under construction) says (here) that Judge John Roberts is a conservative’s conservative in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

Some will recall that Mr. Miranda is a former staffer for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that was hung out to dry when he leaked (non-secret) Democratic senatorial memos that exposed the Democrats’ slimy, raw tactics in blocking the President’s judicial nominees. Rather than focus on the substance of the memos, Senator Hatch joined the exposed Democrats in an inquisition against Mr. Miranda, who (see here) “committed no wrongdoing–no hacking, no ethical lapses.” Mr. Miranda later formed the Third Branch Conference, which is sort of a clearing house and advisory group for conservative action groups.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard says that while Roberts is conservative, he is no risk taker, which is what conservatives really hoped for. Indeed, he indicates that the nomination battle will probably be less than the bloody fight we have all been expecting. Barnes says Roberts is “an establishment conservative, [who is] respected as a private attorney and admired as a judge,” but that he is unlikely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

William Kristol (also of the Weekly Standard) says that Roberts is a good choice, but that he’s “a Rehnquist, not a Scalia or a Thomas.” He said that in making his choice, Bush boldly focused on the best candidate rather than on political correctness, turning many pundit prognosticators on their heads.

Shannen Coffin of the National Review says that if there is a fight to get Roberts approved, it will be worth fighting. He outlines Roberts’ credentials and says that he “brings near unparalleled experience before the Supreme Court.”

National Review editors say that Roberts is a trade-up from O’Connor, and note some liberal rumblings against Roberts already in the works from the likes of Senator Dick our-soldiers-are-as-bad-as-Nazis Durbin (D-IL) (see al Jazeera story gloating over Durbin’s enemy love fest). They say that Roberts is a constructionist and they take the liberal gripers to task, noting that “Progressives have been telling us for more than a century that the original Constitution was inadequate.”

In nominating Roberts, the President noted that his 2001 nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals was supported by a bipartisan group of over 150 respected lawyers with very diverse political views.

Roberts’ credentials are impressive (see Wikipedia article). He has served in many government positions and worked with the prestigious Washington D.C. based Hogan & Hartson Law Firm. That happens to be the same firm Sandy Berger (national security adviser to President Clinton) worked for when he “inadvertently” stuffed some classified memos down his pants and stole them from a vault in the National Archives, later destroying them at home so that they could not be reviewed by the 9/11 Commission. Keeping company like that could give conservatives pause.

The reason Fred Barnes says Roberts is likely to be confirmed is that he is a true Washington insider. He has many friends in many (influential) places on both sides of the aisle and is highly respected by them. He has a good reputation as a straight shooter, but he tends not to rock the boat (see links to multiple stories). I guess we’ll have to wait to see if Democratic senators try to Bork Roberts.

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