Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Another white chucklehead in a black robe?

President Bush has, quite literally, picked his man. After there was much speculation that Dubya would pick a woman to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, including the enticing “almost leak” of Judge Edith Brown Clement’s name, the President went ahead and selected the relatively young Judge John Roberts from the cornhusker state. Another white chucklehead in a black robe! SWEET!

I am not going to go into the details of Judge Roberts’ background or career except to say that this is a man who, at 50, has a relatively empty and uncertain past. Not that his credentials should be called into question. Roberts appears to me to be very capable and qualified. Roberts was a clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist. He is known to be a conservative and known the favor states rights to the federal government. Two things that worry me, but I believe that simply worrying a liberal is not grounds to rule him out. There were more qualified conservatives and more qualified moderates. So, why did George W. Bush select this relative newcomer? Roberts will certainly appease the conservative wing, but he’s not THAT conservative. He’ll offend some liberals, but he’s not THAT offensive.

Why then, you ask, pick John Roberts for the bench? Because George W. Bush is a political genius. That’s why. President Bush has selected a man, who in his early fifties, will likely sit on the Supreme Court for 35 years. Dubya has assured that his legacy will be felt for many years to come (as if the Iraq debacle hadn’t already assured that). In appointing this judge who is relatively unknown, he has ensured that the left cannot smear him as this, that or the other, though they certainly will try. It was commented on NPR this morning that Judge Roberts’ decisions are almost too clean. By this I mean, he never allows personal sentiment to overshadow his legal argument. Does that mean that his personal beliefs don’t influence his decisions? No, it means that he has been extremely careful, as if planning for this occasion.

No one knows what kind of justice John Roberts will make. Dubya could have appointed the first Latino to the court. He could have chosen to replace O’Connor with another woman. Some believe that the fact that we know so little about Roberts indicates that he could be the perfect candidate to slip past the Democrats and get another ideologue onto the court, but remember the last time the GOP tried to slip one past the Democrats, with Justice Souter, it came back to bite them on the ass.

In the end I will reserve judgment on the judge. He is the Presidents choice and while I didn’t vote for him it is his prerogative to appoint anyone he wants.

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