Bush Nominates Roberts For Chief Justice

Roberts had been O'Connor's replacement. Now he's Rehnquist's. As my wife points out, this gives the lie to the GOP claim that Roberts is a moderate. If he's conservative enough to replace Rehnquist, he's no moderate.

By the same token, can we continue to oppose Roberts because he's not a moderate? I never thought that was the best criticism to begin with. If Kerry had been elected, would he have been expected to nominate a conservative to replace the conservative Rehnquist?

However, questions still remain about Roberts' record on civil rights as well as his general honesty. I still think Roberts should be opposed. What are your thoughts?

PS - How pissed must Scalia be?

Tags: Judges (all tags)

Comments

47 Comments

Progress
"By the same token, can we continue to oppose Roberts because he's not a moderate? I never thought that was the best criticism to begin with. If Kerry had been elected, would he have been expected to nominate a conservative to replace the conservative Rehnquist?"

I don't understand the argument of maintaining balance on the court, of replacing like with like.  If that were the case, we'd still have chief justices like Taney saying that blacks have "no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit."

Progress is inevitable, and we're a whole lot better off for it.

by mlanger 2005-09-05 06:47AM | 0 recs
heh
PS - How pissed must Scalia be?

Ha!!!  He's probably in a foul mood this Labor Day.    But he would have been a wretched CJ with his acerbic attitude.

At least we're spared the spectacle of a "Thomas court."  That would have been stomach turning indeed.

by arenwin 2005-09-05 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: heh
Whether you love him or hate him, Scalia would have been the worst possible Chief Justice. He likes antagonizing his fellow jurists, which is not what a Chief Justice should do. He's simply too polarizing.

Thomas would have been better than Scalia, but not much.

Rehnquist was quite conservative and usually agreed with these two, but was well liked by his collegues and was very good at executing the duties of the Chief Justice.

by wayward 2005-09-06 03:25AM | 0 recs
I don't think he is pissed
This may be me just positing an assumption, I believe that Scalia will be somewhat happy to be behind Roberts as a Chief Justice. Scalia can continue his conservative barrage on the other Justices. The Bush adiministration knows that electing Scalia would be very divisive and quite partisan. Conservative Polls are showing Roberts having acceptance from Moderates and a tiny acceptance of some Democrats.

I have to wonder if I am the only who thinks this is one of stupidest elections of a non-confirmed Justice to Chief Justice.  How can he be expected to direct 8 other Justices who have been together for 11 years...they must all be pissed?

by ArousedNewsJulienDavid 2005-09-05 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
Also, Bush nominated Roberts because he is young and will be Chief Justice for 25 years.
by mleflo2 2005-09-05 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
For what it's worth, (1) over the course of history, most Chief Justices have been appointed from outside the Court, (2) in many ways, Chief Justices from the "outside" have a distinct advantage taking over, in that they don't have any interpersonal baggage with the other Justices, and also don't have to face the awkwardness inherent in an "equal" suddenly becoming the "first among equals," (3) many of the Justices have no desire to become Chief Justice -- the job brings with it too much administrative responsibility for their taste, too much visibility, too much tension, and only a little more power (all of it entirely informal) than that possessed by any other Justice.  In a sense, the Court is like a college or law school faculty: some professors would love to be deans or university presidents; others say a prayer of thanks every day that they're not.
by Perry Dane 2005-09-05 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
Yes - you are almost on the point. The stupidity factor is critical here.

Imagine this, how many Rookies in sports do you know who get elected in thier first seasons to being Captain? 0 - maybe 1 in history.

This decision is so monumetally dumb on so many levels, I can not believe the public and media continue to say, "Oh yes, he should get eleceted easily", that includes Jeff Toobin on CNN.

by ArousedNewsJulienDavid 2005-09-05 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
As I recall, Earl Warren was immediately nominated to Chief Justice. I dont see any liberals badmouthing that move...
by AC4508 2005-09-05 05:59PM | 0 recs
LOL!
You're kidding. You haven't seen liberals out in the streets tearing their hair out over the 1953 appointment of Earl Warren?

What, have you been living under a rock? This is all I ever hear anybody talking about!

by catastrophile 2005-09-05 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
Just because its the way things normally or always work doesn't make it right or even sensible.  But it is inevitable.
by jrflorida 2005-09-05 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think he is pissed
The CJ job is mostly ceremonial & administrative. I don't think there are many Associate Justices that sulk if they're not elevated.

Despite Scalia's somewhat scathing opinions, he reportedly gets along quite well with the other Justices. His family & Ginsburg's even socialize outside the Court.

by SLinVA 2005-09-05 09:22AM | 0 recs
Package deal - Show us a Moderate!
Before Roberts can be confirmed we need to see a moderate. Unusual times call for unusual procedures. Show us a moderate then we'll consider confirming Roberts.

No moderate, No deal.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-09-05 07:39AM | 0 recs
Depends on what you mean by "oppose"
Tough questions? A no vote? Well then hell yeah, cause this guy is a lock to vote to overturn Roe v Wade. But filibuster? I don't think so.

Whether or not you think Roberts is a stealth Bork and whatever your views on ideological balance on the Court at this point we are at worst looking at replacing like with like. Rehnquist was a young, smart, ambitious judge with a short resume and Roberts is much the same. His appointment doesn't move the Court. And it opens some manuever ground for the next opening, Bush's ability to push some total disaster like Edith Jones will be limited if Roberts gets in on a tough, fair and narrow vote. 45 No's from Dems and a couple of Republicans crossing the aisle and you deliver a message.

Bush is thrashing and a filibuster would be tossing him a life ring. A ringing 'No' vote tosses him a boat anchor.

Besides Roberts may be a surprise. Atrios claims he was making a joke but the code words are tumbling all over themselves here. I mean who goes to Central America to adopt kids and finds two towheads that were born in Norway? Immediately after marrying another ambitious lifelong single lawyer in her early 40s?

The Bush Administration is one picture of Ken and Scotty showing America what a Mandate really means of imploding anyway. Let them have Roberts, the alternatives are worse.

by Bruce Webb 2005-09-05 07:46AM | 0 recs
interesting
Because O'Connor has pledged to remain on the court until a successor is confirmed. But this appears to have been in the works for a while now. Bush liked to portray his choice of Roberts as unkown until they met, they Roberts was intereviewd in April for Rehnquist's job.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-09-05 07:54AM | 0 recs
This Is LUDICROUS!
First they nominate Roberts as a stealth candidate, because he can disown virtually everything he's written as "just serving his client."  

The normal response to this is simple: No deal.  No one should be appointed to the Supreme Court without some firm, rational basis on which the Senate can advise and consent.  Let him be appointed to a lower court first, and develop a record on which he can be judged.  Roberts has a brief record--and it appears that even in that short time he's shown complete contempt for the most basic principles of fairness, in failing to recuse himself when he ought to have.

So, the argument in favor of him is "he's a complete cipher, you have no idea what he will do, but he's a damn fine corporate lawyer."  The argument against him is "he has a horrendous record of arguing against fundamental freedoms, and for arbitrary state power, and he has utter contempt for any sort of self-restraint in the interests of a fair judicial process."

Pardon me if I point out that the argument in favor is non-existent.  The argument in favor is "Bush appointed him."  But that's not an argument. It's a statement of fact. Period.

Now we're expected to take this non-argument as good enough to justify appointing him Chief Justice!

Well, I'll say one thing. It makes the appointment of Michael Brown to head FEMA look like a stroke of genius.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-09-05 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: This Is LUDICROUS!
You seem to have quite an established record for the man you insist should first be sent to lower federal courts so we can figure out who he really is. Ginsburg answered no questions during her confirmation hearings and that was ok for Democrats. Warren had NO judicial experience whatsoever (compartively Roberts is a master) and I dont hear Democrats complaining about that either. Look, I agree that Roberts should have to answer questions on precedent, interstate commerce etc. but lets be fair before we jump off any planks. To the people who have said "Roberts is unacceptable" I shake my head. How much do we really know about this guy at this point? Lets reserve judgement until after the hearings.
by AC4508 2005-09-05 06:04PM | 0 recs
Opposing Roberts
I've been wondering this long before Rehnquist's death and this new development:

What is the purpose of opposing Roberts?

Are we hoping against hope that he won't be confirmed?

Do we think we can convince the gang of 14 to accept a filibuster?  Do we think a filibuster is even sustainable?

Are we just trying to muster enough no votes so that his tenure on the court will be delegitimized in some way?

If by some miracle Roberts is not seated, who do we think we'll get who will be more acceptable?  I'm not saying that there aren't lots more acceptable candidates out there, but does anyone really think there's a chance that Bush will nominate someone we like better than Roberts?

What's the goal here?

by nocloset 2005-09-05 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Opposing Roberts
In my view: to muster enough "no" votes that we are a credible opposition.  Enough that we can make the point when he votes to dismantle civil liberties that we did not consent to this.  Enough to send Bush the message that the Democrats won't roll over.  

If someone as conservative as Roberts can get 60+ votes, Bush will likely feel a lot more comfortable nominating someone even further to the right next time, knowing that 51 votes are all he needs.  Edith Jones?  Pricilla Owens?  Janice Rodgers Brown?  All would be worse.

I do not favor a filibuster, which I think would be a political loser here.  I do, however, favor a rigorous opposition.

by arenwin 2005-09-05 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Opposing Roberts
Funny you should mention Edith Jones.  I'd put my money on her to replace O'Connor.

A woman.  From the storm ravaged 5th circuit.

Plenty of political cover there.

by mlanger 2005-09-05 08:39AM | 0 recs
Credible opposition
Nailed it. Bush gets to put in a down the line conservative, by the Grace of God (and the help of Diebold) he won the election. But he doesn't get a free pass for a wingnut like Jones or Brown.

Democratic Senators need to vote No on Roberts, hopefully unanimously, but then move on prepared to fight the Big One over the next nominee. Because the bench behind Roberts is truly scary.

I can accept Rehnquist Junior, after all it is like for like. And the Senate Dem's risk unfair labeling if they oppose Roberts on issues alone. ON the other hand Jones and Brown have some truly scary views about the Constitution, we need to save our ammunition for when it counts.

by Bruce Webb 2005-09-05 10:37AM | 0 recs
Roberts is obviously a young Rehnquist
I agree. There is no argument FOR Roberts.

The only reason he's being nominated for CJ over Scalia is because he's younger.

Conservatives forced Clinton into appointing moderates, I don't see why we should do any less.

Liberals are always doing for repubs, what repubs would not do for them.

It makes no sense. Make them send someone worth confirming.

by ugottabkidding 2005-09-05 08:38AM | 0 recs
Moderates?
Candor should cause us to admit that Ginsburg & Breyer are as far into the liberal legal mainstream as Roberts is in the conservative legal mainstream. Ginsburg had been the General Counsel of the ACLU. Breyer was Ted Kennedy's counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Like Roberts, the exhibited a great deal of ability and earned the respect of those that worked with them over the years.

by SLinVA 2005-09-05 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Moderates?
This depends laregly on what you call the mainstream. Ginsburg and Breyer would be moderates if Brennan and Marshall were still on the court. There was a time when Rehnquist was the most conservative justice on the court. That was the same time that Bob Dole was one of the more conservative voices in the GOP. Now Rehnquist and Dole are now considered moderate conservatives. We need to return to that time and move the mainstream back to where it was.
by Matt42 2005-09-05 01:06PM | 0 recs
I think....
I think we have to go back to the initial thought most of us had when Roberts' name was first floated.

How can a man with only two years of experience as a judge be REMOTELY qualified to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

by Jeff Seemann For Congress 2005-09-05 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I think....
Like I said in one of the other threads on this topic, I'm fairly certain Earl Warren had zero years as a judge when he was elevated to CJ - he was primarily a politician.  And then he went on to write Brown v. Board of Education.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Roberts is another Warren.  I don't think the resume approach is the winner, here.

by arenwin 2005-09-05 09:30AM | 0 recs
"Well Qualified"
Experience on a federal appellate court isn't the only expereince that counts. Lewis Powell had never been a judge at any level when he was nominated, and that's true of a number of S. Ct. Justices.

The ABA found Roberts "Well Qualified" based on his education, expereince in private practice and public service, the quality of his writings, and the opinions of those he had worked with over the years. There really isn't any question as to his qualifications, and we only embarrass ourselves by suggesting the contrary.

by SLinVA 2005-09-05 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: I think....
The "lack of experience" criticism is really a red herring.  Many of the most effective,influential, and renowned Supreme Court Justices had no judicial experience before being appointed.  John Marshall, known to this day as "The Great Chief Justice," had no experience as a judge.  (He apparently even turned down an earlier effort to appoint him as an Associate Justice).  Earl Warren, probably the most important Chief Justice of the 20th century, was Governor of California before being appointed, and had no judicial experience.  Moreover, Roberts, say what else you want about him, knows the Court and the way it works about as well as anybody who's not a Justice could:  He clerked for Rehnquist, and he's  been one of the leading advocates before the Court.  The Justices know him and respect him.  In short, Roberts cannot be criticized for having an inadequte resume or insufficient experience.  He can (to a point) be criticized for his views, but that's another matter entirely.
by Perry Dane 2005-09-05 12:09PM | 0 recs
Of course we should oppose him
Questions have been asked; stonewalls have been erected; the truth is being hidden.  This man is a dangerous neo-con and the democrats do themselves and us no service in letting him sail into this position.  
When the release the records that have been requested, then the Senate can make an informed decision.  This piece meal BS is enough to make anybody with any sense scream.
It is amazing that Bush could not respond to the Hurricane with any haste, but Rehnquist dies and the body isn't even cold before he hands us this Bullshit: for the sake of the nation.

Where are the Democrats?????????

by wmkrayer 2005-09-05 08:51AM | 0 recs
Roberts nomination
If you need a good reason to oppose Roberts, just go check out the rightwing blogs and observe their enthusiasm for his nomination.
by global yokel 2005-09-05 09:01AM | 0 recs
Bush taking advantage of an uneducated public
Notice how the President wants Congress to get this appointment through in 4 weeks before the Supreme Court resumes.  The vetting process has not begun. There are 10,000 or more pages to review that the White House has released. The White House has not released any of his Solicitor General data. All of the committee senators will popping out of their chairs to vote on critical legislation throughout the next month or months to come. 4 weeks is not long enough to cross examine and re-examine Roberts.

This is another well organized Right-Wing diversionary tactic to take many of the vocal senators off the floor of the senate and have them stuck in committee hearings.

The question is what is the response and will the Democratic get a backbone and a leader to push back the Bush administration political machine?

by ArousedNewsJulienDavid 2005-09-05 09:42AM | 0 recs
John Roberts
With no disrespect intended to my fellow Democrats, we should be considering a differing perspective.  Thusly, let me offer out the following:

For a variety of reasons, I would prefer that the Senate "reject" all nominees for the next three and a half years with one exception, and that's in demanding that President Bush appoint "elected" or "formerly elected" officials to the Court.

Simply put, an elected official brings forth not only the political baggage but a more well-rounded view of America.  Waging a successful political campaign and a transparent history while holding office, will eliminate a high level of doubt on the vast array of issues that have been addressed. As such, there is very little wiggle room or hiding in the carefully nuanced shadows of public discourse,and which reduces our normative and cynical view of what America can be.

During the David Souter confirmation process in the Senate, the former Senator Bill Bradley had this to say:

"...most of what we do in this body involves shaping a part of America through the instrument of legislation;  the Court, on the other hand, defines the possibilities of an entire nation."

At the end of the day, when it comes to the Court, there is no recourse to the "lemon laws".  And "buyer's remourse" is a wasted effort and far too costly as exemplified by the Invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps, a far easier approach to 'caveat emptor' is better accomplished by nominees that have a track record as 'elected' officials.  As an aside, I too would prefer to see criminal defense attorneys, consumer law attorneys, Native American law attorneys, and water rights law attorneys sitting on the High Court.

And until Bush nominates "elected" officials, I am opposed to "appointed" officials.

by Jaango 2005-09-05 10:23AM | 0 recs
80 Votes
The Hill newspaper today reported that Roberts may get as many as 25 Democratic votes for confirmation. The Washington Post reported similarly 2 days ago. That's 80 votes in total. Obviously, elected Democrats see the situation somewhat differently than many here.
by SLinVA 2005-09-05 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: 80 Votes
Alberto Gonzales was likewise predicted to sail through his confirmation hearings. Obviously, pundit predictions don't always hold true.
by Curt Matlock 2005-09-06 07:48AM | 0 recs
The Biggest Beneficiary
Carl "the name dropper" Rove must be grinning from ear to ear. Just look at the series of events that have taken and kept his "crime" out of the spotlight. And you just know he's the one pulling the strings on the dummy.
by blogus 2005-09-05 10:43AM | 0 recs
Thank god
Roberts replacing O'Connor moves the court to the right, no question. Replacing Rehnquist? As opposed to Scalia or Thomas? Much better alternative.

Roberts getting confirmed is a dead issue. He's going to be named Chief Justice, barring some unforseen development. Now the much more important task of replacing O'Connor is upon us all over again. If he picks another WASP I'm going to be sick.

by zt155 2005-09-05 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank god
Somehow, I expect that is exactly what he's going to do.  Bush doesn't even need to feel like he has to appoint somebody polticially correct.  In fact, his base is probably happier with him for going after a White Male deliberately.  
by Matusleo 2005-09-05 12:13PM | 0 recs
Save your Ammo
Now that Rehnquist has passed away, the appointment of Roberts is a wash. The next appointment is the one that matters. People here are advocating a unanimous "no" vote on Roberts, but on what basis? Ideological? He's a conservative? Dems are already seen by America as pessimistic complainers with no ideas, playing partisan politics as usual. If they are going to vote no unanimously there better be a smoking gun and frankly I haven't seen it. Is Roberts a conservative? Yes. Is there any evidence to suggest he's Scalia Jr.? No.

We have no idea how this guy is going to vote on key issues, which already makes him better than 9/10ths of the candidates Bush had in mind. A very conservative president is in power along with a conservative legislature. It is his right--and duty--to the people that elected him to nominate someone that share's their viewpoint no matter how much the losers (us) dislike it. Would we expect anything different if liberals were in control? Would you expect a liberal president to throw the religious right a bone and elect a conservative? LOL! Believe what you will about the elections, but the fact remains Bush was elected. We exposed the lead-in to the war, exposed his radically conservative viewpoints, exposed a wildly disturbing first-term record and you know what the majority of americans did? The reelected him. I'm tired of us being sour-grapes over the whole thing. It happened, its done, there's nothing we can do about the past.

I say ask the tough questions. If he gives respectible answers then Dems would be compelled to give a yes vote. They/We need to save their political ammunition for a really scary nominee. Baring a successful filibuster (which won't happen) Roberts is going to be confirmed. If Dems throw a nasty hissy fit now and inevitably lose, they'll look even worse if and when GWB elects a militant right-winger. It'll look like Dems are just being partisan and voting against ANY conservative. It'll look like they are  crying wolf and the rest of americans will sigh and think the democrats are just being sore losers again. No, we need to have a coordinated, effected opposition ONLY when it is absolutely critical. If we use up our ammo on Robberts there will be nothing left credibility wise for an ultra conservative.

As for "sending a message"--what message would a considerable amounts of "no" votes tell this president? Is there anything about GWB that makes you think he can hear such a message? Do you honestly think he or those around him (KR) cares? He hasn't for 5+ years, and he won't start listening now. If he gets any message it will be that the Dems are going to oppose ANY conservative, that they will inevitably lose the battle, so he might as well nominate the most ultra conservative he can think of.

Matt

by bigdaddy 2005-09-05 02:05PM | 0 recs
Roberts and second nominee
I have e-mailed all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and I hope everyone else will do so, too. It is probably inevitable that Roberts will be eventually confirmed as chief justice, but the committee should stall until it is necessary for Bush to send up the second name. If the name is extreme (Edith Jones, for one example), then it is filibuster time. With Roberts "held hostage" for the second name, we will get a more moderate name. I know Gonzalez is no prize, but after all we did lose the election, and no one more moderate than he will be forthcoming. The extreme right dislikes him, which is a good recommendation. Anyway, once Roberts is confirmed, we lose all leverage. Please write the committee members and ask for delay in the rush to confirm Roberts at least till we know the second name!
by rneisuler 2005-09-05 02:13PM | 0 recs
2nd Nominee
If the votes are there to filibuster a 2nd nominee, there'd be no need to do so for Roberts, too. Besides, across the board obstructionist tactics would lose public support. If there is a problem with the 2nd nominee, oppose him/her but don't weaken the credibility of that opposition by also taking on Roberts.
by SLinVA 2005-09-05 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: 2nd Nominee
Not talking about filibustering Roberts, only slowing down enough to force Bush to name a (relative) moderate for the 2nd seat. If we wait until he has named that person to show resistance, it will be too late to influence the naming of the person. If we filibuster, and they do the "nuclear option" we have nothing, so the influence MUST come earlier.
by rneisuler 2005-09-05 03:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts and second nominee
"but after all we did lose the election"

More people voted for the Democratic congressional candidates than the Republicans.

by craverguy 2005-09-05 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts and second nominee
At some point Democrats have to wake up and smell reality. Republicans control the White House, Republicans control the House, Republicans control the Senate. They weren't appointed, they were elected.

As far as the stall tactic...if there's precendant for that, something in the confirmation rules that permit it, then I'm okay with it. Otherwise, I expect my elected officials to play by the rules and follow precedent.

by bigdaddy 2005-09-05 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts and second nominee
And I expect my elected officials to protect me from the machinations of extremists. Just because people voted for Bush, that doesn't mean we should just let him do what he pleases. Remember, Hitler won a majority of the vote, too.
by craverguy 2005-09-05 06:05PM | 0 recs
Hearings Postponed?
I thought I heard on NBC Nightly news that the Roberts hearings were to be postponed.  Did I hear that right?  Anybody else hear this?
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2005-09-05 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Hearings Postponed?
Probably just for a couple of days according to NPR.
by EvanstonDem 2005-09-05 05:25PM | 0 recs
How pissed must Scalia be?
Roberts is a stalking horse. It's Scalia bush wants for Chief.

This is Rove 101 at work. Call their bluff. Agree to Roberts. See who blinks first.

If Roberts is another Rehnquist then the next right wing nominees get filibustered. It's take no prisoners time.

by Joyce Nowak 2005-09-05 07:29PM | 0 recs
Roberts and circumventing the law
From WaPo:

One file withheld, regarding the Iran- contra affair, was a draft memo from Roberts to his bosses with the heading "re: establishment of NHAO" -- referring to the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office.

The office was one of the ways the Reagan administration got around what were known as the Boland amendments, which prohibited U.S. intelligence agencies from spending money to overthrow the Sandinistas. The office was a way the administration could get funds to the contras for nonmilitary purposes, but once there the money was used for all sorts of things.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/24/AR2005082402016_2.html

I would also like to point out this:

On July 15, the day President Bush interviewed John G. Roberts Jr. about an appointment to the Supreme Court, the judge was part of an appeals court panel that approved broad presidential powers in the war on terrorism.

The ruling gave the administration a green light to use military tribunals to try those labeled "enemy combatants" at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And it said that those combatants had no right in U.S. courts to enforce provisions of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/15/14033/8173

Roberts expansive and non-constitutional view of presidential power is dangerous to America.

It shows a disregard both for law, the rule of law, and for ethical conduct by government officials.

Roberts is lawyer who has no concept of ethics or the law.

by therebis 2005-09-06 08:11AM | 0 recs

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