Wednesday, July 20, 2005

SCOTUS Nomination

With the nomination of John Roberts yesterday, there was a hue and cry from some on the Left that the timing of this was designed to distract from Leakgate. This makes no sense to me. Ostensibly, was the timing propitious? Sure. But I know almost nothing about Roberts, and I suspect I am not alone. If part of the motive behind the timing of this was to distract, wouldn't the White House have better served itself by nominating someone other than a plain-vanilla, soft-spoken, seemingly moderate jurist who by all accounts has high-profile admirers on both sides of the aisle? Except for the predictable debate about Roe v. Wade that will take place, this choice is not going raise the level of rhetorical mercury out there. And I suspect that over the next few days a realization will set in that, absent something out of left field like unpaid nanny taxes, this nomination will be successful.

It speaks volumes about the administration's evaluation of its own political capital that instead of a more controversial Bork-redux choice that would have both rallied its firebrand base and knocked Leakgate from the public discourse for weeks or months, it went with a nominee that appears to do neither. To the extent the administration was "forced into moderation" by its own agenda-sapping problems with Leakgate and other issues, that's probably a good thing.

27 Comments:

Blogger owenz said...

I couldn't agree more, TCR. I was expecting a Janice Rogers Brown nomination...a real abomination that would pull the conversation in DC away from Rove. Admittedly people on the left are in somewhat of a paradox: after amassing a huge campaign chest and getting themselves ready for a first class brawl in the Senate, the Roberts selection is almost disturbingly reasonable on its face. As you say, it will take a few days for it to sink in that Roberts will probably be confirmed easily.

I have to wonder if Arlen Spector's last minute trip to the White House had anything to do it. Could he have told that President that going extreme could result in a bad outcome for the Administration this time around?

7/20/2005 8:49 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

I hope that going extreme will always result in a bad outcome when the topic is Supreme Court nominees.

I do worry about Roe v. Wade with any Bush nominee, though.

7/20/2005 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good points by TCR. Libs would be well-advised to save their energy for the next one IMO.

7/20/2005 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roberts is no moderate. He is on the record as wanting to overturn Roe.

7/20/2005 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he made that statement on the behalf of a client he was representing when he was a private attorney. Therefore that statement was not neccesarily his POV but that of his client. No one really knows where he stands on Roe v Wade as of this post but I'm sure it will get dug up in the next few days. All in all he seems like a good choice for the position at this moment. I was most impressed by the fact that he was unanimously approved for his current position in the appeals court by members of both parties.

7/20/2005 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Lilybart said...

Is any member of the Federalist Society considered "moderate?"

7/20/2005 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good call, lilybart. my biggest objection to this nominee is his gender; i'm sure it never occurred to george h.w. bush to replace thurgood marshall with anyone other than a black man and his son shouldn't think it's ok to replace the first woman ever nominated to the high court with ANOTHER plain vanilla harvard grad. that said, TCR is correct as usual. this won't be dubya's last nominee and we ought to ration resources accordingly.

7/20/2005 11:01 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

a hue and cry from some on the Left that the timing of this was designed to distract from Leakgate. This makes no sense to me. Ostensibly, was the timing propitious? Sure. But I know almost nothing about Roberts, and I suspect I am not alone. If part of the motive behind the timing of this was to distract, wouldn't the White House have better served itself by nominating someone other than a plain-vanilla, soft-spoken, seemingly moderate jurist who by all accounts has high-profile admirers on both sides of the aisle?

Obviously, patently true.

7/20/2005 11:18 AM  
Anonymous viejolex said...

"Seemingly moderate?" Realist, bud, you're losing some of your cunning.

7/20/2005 11:19 AM  
Blogger David Studhalter said...

Maybe. But Roberts is pretty much an unknown. I think those who have grown to distrust everything this administration says or does, irrespective even of political persuasion, are suspicious that Roberts may have given representations of pretty extreme conservative views to be picked... although, of course, this is nothing more than skeptical/suspicious (say paranoid if you prefer hyperbole)...speculation.

7/20/2005 11:40 AM  
Blogger David Studhalter said...

Oh, and please... this is a pet peeve... can we please can it with POTUS and SCOTUS... this is not a military junta where military jargon needs to creep into every aspect of American political discourse. Is it SO hard to say "the Supreme Court?"

7/20/2005 11:43 AM  
Anonymous keebler2012 said...

Roberts seems mild and moderate in impression, but that is the stealth.

hmmm...let's peek in and...

http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/John_G._Roberts_Jr.

- pro-mining
- pro-developing
- pro-property
- pro-adminstration
- pro-religious institionalization
- anti-disability rights
- anti-veteran benefits
- anti-reproductive rights
- anti-minority voting rights
- anti-affirmative action

Yes, quite a sensible nomination, given the extreme worldview...

7/20/2005 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night on Charlie Rose they were discussing this pick, and saying that the Supreme Court could change over 100 rulings; something that will impact all our lives (not just women medical health), everything from privacy, environment, pollution, commerce, property, etc. I'm sure Karl Rove has an agenda. Charlie Ross kept bringing it up that Bush said that he owed his base a fundamentalist conservative (icks). It is obvious that they are going to have another opportunity at this. To be honest I haven't seen anything about liberals and what they are doing, and I don't believe Fox because they get their talking points from Karl Rove and we know he is a habitual liar with no bounds --- although, if Rove is a liar and he told fundamentalist that they would get payback in the form of a fundamentalist Supreme Court nominee... hhhmmm... you think ;-|

I don't know, I think our country is pretty awesome now (minus the fundmentalists), why would social conservatives want to break something that is working.

If Jay Leno's Jay Walking segment is any indicator of peoples understanding of the Supreme Court, they could pick a fundamentalist muslim mullah and people wouldn't notice. We take our freedoms and choices for granted. I swear we learn nothing from history.

The former head of the EPA in Bush's 1st term, Christine Whitman wrote a interesting book It's My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America, although I don't agree with all of it. She makes some good points about today's Republican party.

7/20/2005 12:24 PM  
Anonymous marys said...

I don't see why both couldn't be true -- yes, the administration wanted desperately to distract the media from Karl Rove's problems (when was the last time a Supreme Court nomination announcement was made in prime time?), and maybe they also have an inkling that their political leverage is at an all-time low. Truth be told, I don't really think they worry very much about their political capital. I think they're intent on appointing not a fire-breathing pro-lifer but a guy who will serve corporate interests. Of course, the ideal would've been to appoint a fire-breather who would help do away with federal regulation, but you can't have everything, especially when you're rushing to announce a nominee in order to distract people from your closest advisor's legal problems.

7/20/2005 12:52 PM  
Blogger owenz said...

Ok, so this fact has emerged: Roberts' wife is the former executive vice president of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion outfit.

Interesting.

7/20/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

The last four Supreme Court nominees were announced by the president in afternoon press conferences where reporters could aks questions.

7/20/2005 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Bloomberg News

"Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy.

Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 26 or 27, just before his planned July 28 departure for a month-long vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, said two administration officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named.

The officials said those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald's interest and of news accounts about the matter."

7/20/2005 8:35 PM  
Anonymous m osman said...

i gotta disagree with you TCR, i think Bush made this pick to get something done right and quick and also turn the tide by showing that the dems and liberals are crazy and will scream and shout no matter what happens so the country should ignore them. great point before about roberts being a 'stealth' pick. still, this has been about showing Bush in a moderate, rational light and his opponents as radical obstructionists. Even Coulter to make pretend that she doesn't like the pick, so that Bush looked like he picked someone closer to the middle.

So far, everything with this strategy is working just fine. So is bush admn riding out the Rove/Plame fiasco tact.

7/21/2005 2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the fact that Roberts is not a controversial pick is evidence that the choice was in part a diversion. Bush/Rove wanted to take more time to investigate and choose a poltically helpful candidate, i.e. some combination of conservative female hispanic/black, that would would work as a wedge issue, but they did not have enough time to vet the possible candidates to be sure that 1) they were really conservatives, i.e. not David Souter, and 2) didn't have any skeletons in the closet. In the end they didn't have time to do this so they picked a safe, though less controversial, candidate.

7/21/2005 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the man who argued (and won) that we if labeled a terrorist do not have a right to a fair trial. He will guarantee that the Court will nibble away at our Civil Liberties for years to come!

7/21/2005 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like tomorrow at least 4 major news outlets are going to "break" a story on the Rove et al scandal.
So the "rush to justice" has pretty much fizzled and whether Roberts would have been the pick if they'd really been deliberative or not is anybody's guess. Certainly they could have picked a true wingnut so, maybe this was the lesser of 11 evils.
Doncha just love the "short term gain" mentality??

7/22/2005 1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if the nomination was pushed up to deflect from Rove (and I do think that was one of the behind-closed-door reasons) it didn't seem to work - at least not as of Friday the 22nd.

7/22/2005 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's interesting about this is that Roberts is so not an idealogue. He has many close friends who are democrats--a liberal democrat who taught law with him for years was interviewed on NPR saying what a rational, thoughtful guy he is. Actually reminds me of Souter (I'm from New Hampshire and followed his career)— rational, thoughtful, bookish, and very smart. These guys always move to the left when they get to the Supremes (remember, Republican presidents have nominated 7 out of the 9 current justices, five of whom have arguably moved left since being nominated) precisely because they can. The dogmatists (Scalia and Thomas) are the odd men out for the very reason that they are beholden not to ideas and discourse, but to doctrine. They can't let their thinking evolve, because that would shine light on the fissures in their authoritarian views, which would by definition be impossible. Like evangelists who believe in a literal view of the Bible as literal Truth, these fundamentalists believe in a literal, righteous view of the Constitution—Truth is never open to interpretation. By this measure, Roberts is no fundamentalist.

7/22/2005 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon -

Have five of the 7-of-9 (Trek reference!) moved left, or has the country moved right?

I ask because I used to be "moderate conservative", and now I'm labeled a liberal. My political opinions may have matured in the past decade or two, but they haven't fundamentally changed.

7/26/2005 8:45 AM  
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