Roberts Can Be Stopped

In less than ten hours, I will be in Washington D.C., ready to help lead the blogger opposition to John Roberts. Before this fight begins in earnest, I just wanted everyone here to know that they shouldn't believe the pipe about Roberts being a sure thing. As Bush's support has collapsed, so has the support for everyone around him. Just look at the latest poll on Roberts:Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Sept. 8-9, 2005. N=1,009 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"As you may know, President Bush recently nominated John Roberts to succeed William Rehnquist as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court. From what you've heard or read, do you think Roberts should or should NOT be confirmed by the Senate to serve as chief justice?"

Should Be    Should Not Be    Unsure
   44		24	    32
"Are you concerned that President Bush's appointments will make the Supreme Court too conservative; OR concerned that the justices he appoints won't be conservative enough; OR are you not too concerned either way?"
Too Conservative    Not Con Enough   Not Concerned
      31		       10		    53
Less than half of the country is ready to see this guy confirmed, and that number seems to be dropping fast. There are a lot of minds still to be made up. Also, there are a lot more people concerned about the court becoming too conservative than there are those who worry it will not become conservative enough.

There are a lot of minds yet to be made. We can win this fight, and with Bush sinking like a stone, we can change the complexion of the next nominee. He has already at least partially backtracked on Michael Brown, and his political capital is running out fast. Even if we lose, we must succeed in portraying Roberts as a hard-right conservative in the mind of the public. If we fail to do this, Bush will be able to nominate any psycho conservative in the future he wants. Further, even if we lose, we muse get almost every single Democrat to vote against him. If the party can't stand up now when Bush is weaker than he has ever been, then we are pathetic.

It is time for our first major fight since Bush's numbers began falling off a cliff in late July. It is time to stand up.

Tags: Judges (all tags)

Comments

27 Comments

That's definetly a glass is half-full
observation taken from that poll. A CBS poll out says that as of right now 10% think Roberts should not be confirmed. This is what bothers me about the progressive blogosphere. They represent a small segment of the population regarding Roberts right now. Does that mean the majority of Democrats who are taking a wait and see approach are "DINO"s? If you're in the minority, wouldn't that make YOU the DINO?
by zt155 2005-09-11 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: That's definetly a glass is half-full
Yeah, and 26% in that poll says to confirm. The vast majroity said "can't say."
by Chris Bowers 2005-09-11 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: That's definetly a glass is half-full
There are other polls that say that if Democrats oppose the nomination then the public is more than okay with this. These polls were put out around the time of Roberts nomination as I remember by CNN. I suppose you will explain away every poll that disagrees with your argument. There was also several polls that says they want Democrats to act as an opposition party. They also want a justice who is moderate by a majority. The only people who don't get this- isn't the blogsphere - it's folks like you. It's increasely bizzare to listen to commentary that says a desire for strong leadership is a blogsphere desire- at least anecdotally amongst my conservative to moderate friends- that's what their chief issue is with the Democrats. They believe we are weak.
by bruh21 2005-09-11 09:36PM | 0 recs
Who would you support?
I'm unsure where I fit in with the progressive movement and I find it disconcerting. I've commented in the past that I haven't seen smoking gun evidence that Roberts should be opposed and that the briefs he has writen aren't evidence of anything and I've been branded a GOP troll. Bush isn't going to nominate a moderate since Bush himself wasn't elected as a moderate, but as a far right winger. The scary thing to me isn't that Bush is a far right winger, its that people know this and elect him anyway. Who do those that oppose Roberts think Bush should nominate?
by bigdaddy 2005-09-11 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Who would you support?
What a loaded question. Obviously most progressives are going vomit at the thought of any judicial conservative or legal turd blossom. But true to form, you want to know if there's any reason to oppose Roberts. All I can say is...read his opinions on federal power. As in all judicial opinions he does not come out and say...I don't believe in ennumerated rights or that the Commerce clause means anything but if you read Hedgepth and Rancho you should be able to see that in between the lines.

So who are the solid centrist judicial candidates? Diane Wood would be a good start. But for solid, but not goose-step conservative nominees...J. Harvie Wilkinson and McConnell.

I know this won't satisfy you, but I offer it to you as food for thought.

by risenmessiah 2005-09-11 11:08PM | 0 recs
Good luck!
And I hope you are right that he's not a sure thing.  Perhaps I'm just tired, but I have a bad feeling about how this will go.
by ang6666 2005-09-11 08:43PM | 0 recs
Looks Like Wishful Thinking
Gee, that poll looks pretty good for Roberts. A 2-1 margin for his confirmation, albeit with quite a few undecided/don't know/don't care.

I think those hoping that the hearings will trip up Roberts will be disappointed. As far as I can tell, anyone that has ever seen him in action thinks he will only help himself in the hearings. Unless the public changes its opinion fast, Roberts is headed towards 75-80 votes.

by SLinVA 2005-09-11 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Looks Like Wishful Thinking
He's below 50%. That means public opinion can indeed turn agains thim. People really haven't been paying attention so far. That will change this week.

It's amazing, however, that your support for him runs so deep that you would even say that he will help himself during hearings that haven't happened yet.

by Chris Bowers 2005-09-11 08:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Looks Like Wishful Thinking
I hope you are right... It does look like most people are taking a wait and see approach with the polling.  But you must admit that it is currently looking like this is Roberts to lose.  If he does what I expect him to do, and that is stonewall most of the questions on his support of various issues, I don't see the senate not confirming, unless we can whip up controversy with the stonewalling.  Of course, since Ginsberg did this and most people weren't upset by it, I am not sure it will be possible.  Then again, the country is far different and there are a lot of people who want to know his views, so I think it is work while to stir things up if Roberts refuses to answer.  Anyone pointing to Ginsberg can just be told it is a far different place we live in these days and we don't want far, right wing interests using the court to push their agenda of intolerance and taking away individual freedoms.  Now if we could find a dem with the guts to say it.
by yitbos96bb 2005-09-12 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Looks Like Wishful Thinking
The really burning question is whether SLinVA approves of the title of this diary.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-12 06:19AM | 0 recs
Taking a Process-Oriented Approach
Democrats should say that they will stand fast against another political hack like Michael Brown and that the burden of proof is on the White House to provide full disclosure.  You can play good cop, bad cop in the press and have some Democrats say that Roberts will probably be confirmed and that they just want all the papers released as a matter of principle.  Spin Democratic opposition as a non-partisan process-oriented desire to do a thorough job on an important appointment.

Given the Bush administration's propensity to deceive, inveigle, and obfuscate, it is quite possible that holding the line on full release may be helped by a knee-jerk reaction to never come clean and a Roberts confirmation vote may be delayed by a year or possibly even until the mid-term elections and a sea-change in Senate composition (in the rosiest of rosy scenarios).  Perhaps Scalia's head will explode and a rump 7-member court will have a moderate bent.

by Anthony de Jesus 2005-09-11 09:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Taking a Process-Oriented Approach
That's the most sensible strategy that I've heard yet.  Remember, those polls show that the majority of voters don't give a damn. They will care if they smell a scandal, which stonewalling from the White House will imply.
by antiHyde 2005-09-12 06:02AM | 0 recs
All we are asking for is a little opposition
There's another Newsweek article that is very relevant. A Storm Tossed Boss:

Katrina's winds have unspun the spin of the Bush machine, particularly the crucial idea that he is a commanding commander in chief.

Katrina seems likely to blow away much of Bush's agenda, already burdened by an expensive and increasingly unpopular construction project in Iraq. Congress already has shoveled out $62 billion in relief money alone, with several times that likely to be spent on rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Democrats declared Bush's costly Social Security-reform plan dead (again), as well as his plan to repeal the estate tax. Few Republicans disagreed

The Republicans impeached one of the most popular Presidents in American history. All the base and the blogosphere is asking for is a little bit of opposition. Stand up for something and start making Bush earn every single inch of political gain, instead of clearing the field for Hail Mary passes like CAFTA or even helping with the Energy Bill and Bankruptcy.

Harry Reid needs to start enforcing some discipline by calling  leadership votes. It's way past time to start opposing every single Bush initiative. There is no reason not to with Bush at 38%. None.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-11 10:05PM | 0 recs
Re: All we are asking for is a little opposition
Hell with that, I want W's ass thrown out of office and straight into a prison cell.  But I see your point and agree.  
by yitbos96bb 2005-09-12 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: All we are asking for is a little opposition
Especially given that many Dems and Independents feel the Dems should be offering strong opposition to the Majority party.
by yitbos96bb 2005-09-12 08:31AM | 0 recs
Pull out most of the stops
I would be thrilled if all 45 Dems and a three or four pro-choice Republicans voted against Roberts. Which would still put him on the Court but would fire a gun across the bow of the Good Ship Bushie when it comes time to nominating the O'Conner replacement. But I am convinced a filibuster would backfire, not least because the alternatives to Roberts are worse than he is.

Go get 'em Chris. But let your overall all strategy guide your tactics and save some ammunition for the truly horrible candidates lined up behind Roberts.

by Bruce Webb 2005-09-12 12:37AM | 0 recs
rubber stamp congress
Just maybe the majority are waking up to the fact that Drownie and co. were approved by a knee-jerk majority Republican Congress, the budget cuts to our infrastructure were approved by the same Congress and the level of secrecy by this Admin hasn't been seriously challenged by Congress since he took office.
by musicsleuth 2005-09-12 12:56AM | 0 recs
One must think very carefully of these posts
This is a very important post, and it will not likely gather a lot of comments.

I happen to think Roberts may in fact be a stealth appointment - a washington insider. That said, I do have to say that I'm darking down for a while for a big deadline I'm working on. I wish you the best on this, but politics, for me, doesn't pay the bills.  I'm not inclined to block someone I don't disagree with simply for political purposes.

I would caution you: never put the cart before the horse. Everyone knows that the party should be able to receive those that flock toward it knowing the corruption going on.. but if you put lipstick on a pig and ask some to kiss it, you'll get lipstick all over the pig and no-one will follow you.

Party reform, as led by people like John Kerry, has to take place. Dean has to referee things now, the party has to take on a life and a platform - a meaningful platform. Standing up against Roberts would mean only that the party itself would take reward for having such a platform but in fact this game is so far from the Robert Bork type of action that its almost impossible to turn into a political coup -
I don't really oppose this action but I also don't endorse it. Its hard to place this.

I guess you might first want to take care of your polling - people normally don't care too much about stuff like this.

Then I would be careful about being shrill. The democrats are in a delicate position.

Finally I would pull back. You and I disagree on many things Chris. But on this one, I agree with you in principle but not in your activism. I think you are likely too close to people given over to blind action and will not hear my words.

But in the end, perhaps you are right and I cannot verify or think carefully enough right now to gauge it. Roberts seems to be a moderate right, and the court will transform all that come to him. Only those who have serious issues in their past have to be stopped.

Would the Weimar Republic have changed things given partisanship. Good question. Likely however you need a stealth attack in full with a unified, independent group of people that can bring along a new ideology and a focussed way of doing things. Never ask people to die for just a slogan.

In the end, we know it will be business as usual tomorrow.  Fortune favors the brave , Chris.
Good luck.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-09-12 01:48AM | 0 recs
PS - keeping perspective
Please keep perspective that there are people out there (fundamentalists) who are apparently praying for the compleat destruction of Amerika

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/09/11/zarqawi.message/index.html

I can't be counted among these people but I do think it would be nice to fathom if a storm could ever hit the +process+ up there in DC and destroy any low lying structures.. wake up call purposes only.... sad to say, but foggy bottom seems to be impervious to real change..

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-09-12 02:29AM | 0 recs
Good News and Bad News
First the good news. New Criticisms Aimed at Roberts:

The line of attack was first sounded Friday by the Democratic National Committee's outspoken chairman, Howard Dean, and reinforced Sunday by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the only African American member of the Senate.

Speaking about the black residents of New Orleans, who were the storm's most visible victims, Dean said that Roberts' "entire legal career appears to be about making sure those folks don't have the same rights everybody else does."

"That's probably not the right thing to do," Dean continued, "two weeks after a disaster where certain members of society clearly did not have the same protections that everybody else did because of their circumstances.... I know Judge Roberts loves the law. I'm not sure he loves the American people."

Ron Brownstein has the bad news:

To Fill O'Connor's Shoes, Bush Might Want to Cross the Aisle

In today's polarized political environment, it may seem inconceivable. But presidents in the past occasionally have found it in their interest to fill Supreme Court vacancies with nominees from the opposition party.

Say it ain't so Joe!

Presidents who follow this route must take care to ensure they can live with their choice; Brennan, for instance, represented too great an ideological reach for Eisenhower, and despite Brennan's great stature, the president later regretted the appointment. And any consideration of a Democrat by Bush would guarantee resistance from conservatives eager to tilt the court further right. A Bush gesture to Democrats "would be seen as panic -- or that he is willing to offer us up," says veteran conservative strategist Jeff Bell.

But Bush may find such discontent an acceptable cost for reaching out beyond his core coalition to independent and moderate voters who have soured on him so much in recent surveys that independent pollster John Zogby says Bush now "is president of the Republicans" alone.

Any Democrat would require some ideological concession from Bush. But prospects such as Jose A. Cabranes, appointed by Bill Clinton to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, or even Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), might bring judicial philosophies Bush could tolerate. And by compromising ideologically, Bush could make a dramatic gesture of national reconciliation and conceivably improve his own political standing as well.


Justice Joementum? Are you kidding me? It would open up a terrific spot in the Senate for a good Democrat, but seriously folks, a Supreme Court Justice named Joe?

If both Roberts and Lieberman were confirmed the religious balance on the court would be four Catholics, one Episcopalian, one Protestant and three jews. The religious denomination of 25% of Americans would hold seven out of nine seats on the Supreme Court.

It's a pretty strange commentary that Rhenquist was the last Protestant nominated to the court. What's up with that?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-12 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News and Bad News
Is Zell Miller a protestant?
by antiHyde 2005-09-12 06:09AM | 0 recs
this is a bizarre fight
what exactly is the point of challenging roberts?  so that we can get a different, but surely equally conservative, nominee?

i think we should be thankful we haven't gotten the worst of the worst, a la chief justice thomas, or chief justice luttig.

the guy is qualified.  he is brilliant.  unfortunately, he's also conservative.  bad news folks:  we lost the election, and we don't control the senate.  

the entire system of nomination and confirmation makes no sense if the senate just vetoes people based on their politics.  that is not a sustainable or reasonable approach.

by snaktime 2005-09-12 05:46AM | 0 recs
What is the point of a confirmation hearing?
Challenging a nominee is the whole idea of holding a hearing. If nothing else it would demonstrate to Bush that whoever his next nominee is will not get a free pass.

The point of challenging Roberts is to at least pretent that the Democratic Party has a backbone. The point of challenging Roberts is to determine if he really is qualified to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the next thirty or forty years.

What would be the point of not challenging Roberts?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-12 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: this is a bizarre fight
This guy is a genuine threat to the power of the legislature to make laws that govern the nation as a whole. He is very likely to shoot down the commerce clause that allows the Congress to oversee what happens in the states.

He is also extremely lkikely to support a push for executive powers unlimited by the other branches.

This guy needs to be fought whether or not it seems likely that we can prevail. He is a threat to American democracy as we know it.

by Thresholder 2005-09-12 06:36AM | 0 recs
This fight could be won.
First, a quotation from Chris:

"It is time for our first major fight since Bush's numbers began falling off a cliff in late July. It is time to stand up."

To that I say, Amen, brother!

Second, Chris is right to point out that a confirmation like this is a campaign. It COULD develop over time and snowball into opposition.

First, Polls right now show that Americans don't really know about this except for the pro-life zealots.

Second, while Americans get turned off by wonky stuff, this COULD be connected to issues of freedom and equality that would get Americans excited. Now, the current Dems don't show any of the signs of being able to do that, but it COULD be done. And we should expect our Dem leaders to do it.

Third, Bush's political strength--and that of the GOP--is at a low water mark not seen in decades. Thge aftermath of Katrina is a POLITICAL OPENING! If we are so stupid as to see it as an inhibition on our political goals, we will deserve what we get. Bill Scherr is good on this today at Liberal Oasis.

What would it take?

Well, ideally, the Dem leadership would be united to fight. Of course, it isn't.

OK, plan B.

Here's the scenario I see:

> 2-3 Senators fight in the hearings and start raising stuff. That appears likely, though to what extent it's hard to say.

> Bowers et al raise holy hell in the blogosphere.

> Netroots folks push the press and Dems to support it.

> The opposition begins to gain roots more widely.

> Other Dems begin to see that opposition to Roberts works!

> Genuine opposition grows ala the Bolton nomination, which really should be a model.

Except for 1 thing: Bolton was scuttled mainly by GOPers. That won't happen here.

The biggest problem with any of the above is not only the press, but the general funk of the Dem party. We know that many Dem Senators are ready to throw in the towel.

But look at the folks out here. Look at the negativity in this thread?

If you look at my scenario, there is a key link that is in our control: how do WE respond? How hard to WE netroots people want to fight? Kennedy and Schumer are going to need heavy support right away or the whole thing will fall quickly.

That's why Chris is going to DC to coordinate the fight.

If we are filled with negativity and defeatism and don't support the effort, it WILL FAIL.

If we do fight, we have a fighting chance. Look at the fight Clemons orchestrated. It looked dead all along the way, but in the end, Bush was denied approval for Bolton.

If we do not fight--I mean US, the blogosphere--the fight will never materialize.

by Thresholder 2005-09-12 06:49AM | 0 recs
53%
No one's mentioned what I think is the most telling statistic in this poll: most people are not concerned.

No matter what happens in the hearings, how is anyone going to generate enough public interest and attention to stop this nomination?

We in the blogosphere think this is so important, crucial to the future of our nation.  But most people don't care.  And those people are not going to be convinced to call their Senators and tell them to oppose this appointment.

I'm sorry to have to face this, but I'm convinced it's a done deal.

What we need to accomplish in these hearings is not to try to defeat the Roberts nomination, but to convince the president that he's going to have to select someone more moderate to replace O'Connor.

by nocloset 2005-09-12 07:16AM | 0 recs
Roberts
I'm all for a tough fair hearing, and if something comes out we can use to legitimately oppose him, then go for it.

But saying right now we're going to try to oppose no matter what...let's just say I predict a post by Chris in a few weeks to the effect of, "Depsite the fact that Roberts was confirmed, we did a great job in making this closer than it would have been, and we weakened Bush."  And that's just another "victorious" defeat.

Unless Roberts blows something in the hearings, I would rather be seen as having conducted a tough but fair hearing and gain credibility that will help us oppose a Bush nominee that's an easier target.  If we oppose everyone Bush nominates, then we look like we would oppose anyone whether they are qualified or not.

Bolton was a good target; Roberts so far looks less promising.

by alhill 2005-09-12 07:31AM | 0 recs

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