Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Oxford to Muenster....and the next justice of the Supreme Court

Have been in transit from Oxford, England to Muenster, Germany...trying to do some finishing research on ancient papyri--which means I missed the announcement last night of Roberts to the US Supreme Court.

1) The nomination really looks absolutely bullet-proof. Unless there is something everbody in Washington (and five FBI background checks) has missed, there is no way he can effectively be filibustered or defeated.
2) The NY Times fears that he will overturn Roe v. Wade: The abortion-rights organization Naral immediately came out against the nomination. "If Roberts is confirmed to a lifetime appointment, there is little doubt that he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade," the organization said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman's right to abortion. I hope this is the case.
3) The key point is that Roberts argued for exactly this as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department. His out is that he can reasonably tell the US Senate that his job was to advocate for his client--hence his briefs represent the opinions of the Reagan Justice Department, not his own personal opinions.
4) No doubt this is correct--but his colleagues from Reagan Justice surely know what he really thinks about this, and presumably that is part of how he got his job. The other person who surely knows his personal views is wife--who happens to be executive director of Feminists for Life. Hmm--what are the chances that he and she have diametrically opposed views on this? Hugh Hewitt writes: "Judge Roberts and I were colleagues in the White House Counsel's Office in 1985/1986." When HH describes the nomination as "home run"--would he have done that if he thought Roberts would uphold Roe v. Wade?
5) The uncertainty about this is in part due to the way pro-lifers handled the 2000 nomination. McCain and Bush were both pressed to answer point blank whether they would nominate pro-life justices; McCain said yes, Bush said no: he would promised to appoint strict constructionists, but not pro-lifers. If McCain had been the GOP nominee in 2000, the situation would be quite different.


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