Tuesday, September 06, 2005

John Roberts Nominated to Top SC Job

President Bush has nominated John Roberts to succeed the late William Rehnquist as Supreme Court chief justice. The president acted swiftly, most likely to eliminate the possibility of the man now in charge, Justice John Paul Stevens, having any liberal influence over court deliberations. The President decided not to wait for the funeral of Chief Justice Rehnquist before he announced the nomination of Roberts to the still-warm seat. I believe it was the likelihood of two potentially factious confirmation hearings going on at the same time that bodies were still being recovered on the Gulf Coast that drove Bush straight to Roberts. Sandra Day O’Connor has offered to remain on the Court until her replacement is nominated and confirmed. [LA Times]

Who is John Roberts? A biographical sketch of Roberts, which was recently written by Donna Cassata, is here: [Washington Post.]

Robert W. Gordon, who is Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale, has been studying Roberts. Gordon says that Roberts wrote a series of memos in the 1980s as a Reagan staffer in the Justice Department and the White House. In the memos, he says that Roberts displayed smug contempt on virtually every liberal initiative to legally enforce the rights of blacks and women to equal treatment with white males. He opposed affirmative action orders and court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in schools. His views are said to have been more restrictive of civil rights than some of the hard-line conservatives in Reagan's administration, such as Ted Olson. Worse, Gordon says that most of Roberts’ positions have not been ratified by time, even in our much more conservative political climate. [Gordon - Part One - Gordon - Part Two]
There is a great divide between liberals and conservatives on the appropriate role of federal remedies in federal courts and John Roberts has stood on one side of that divide. Where conservatives have not been able to get the votes in Congress to dismantle American progress by legislation, they’ve tried to do it by executive action and appointing conservative judges to interpret the Constitution so as to limit rights of redress in American courts. It sounds to me like President Bush has nominated a partisan who will likely decide for conservative causes. I often wonder why I’ve heard so many in media saying that he’ll be a shoo-in for confirmation. Whatever happened to giving a nominee a public hearing before these decisions are made in the press for us citizens?
Americans are very concerned about all the sudden unknowns that will surely effect the overall balance of the highest court in our land. I believe that John Roberts’ nomination as chief justice demands a national debate over where the rest of us want to stand.

This is a man that will be chief justice, if confirmed, for 30 or more years. In the media, we hear that he will be easily confirmed. Yet, Senator Edward Kennedy has said that he wants to know more about John Roberts before casting his vote. He and many other Senators also want President Bush to reveal whom he intends to nominate as a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor, a key swing voter on the court.

What do you think about this nomination?
What questions would you like the Senators to ask John Roberts when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
What do you think can we expect if and when he is confirmed?


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