Thursday, July 21, 2005

Signifying nothing

Well, after all we did to keep from blowing up the filibuster, Bush goes and picks the most lukewarm guy he can find to nominate as O'Connor's replacement.

I mean the guy is no saint, but he's no Scalia either. Some "highlights" from Junior's two-year career:

In an environmental case, Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion that raised questions about the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act as applied to a creature that lived entirely in one state. He also dissented from his court's refusal to reconsider a ruling that ordered Vice President Dick Cheney to release records of his energy task force.

Another Roberts opinion last year upheld -- with some reluctance -- the arrest and handcuffing of a 12-year-old girl for eating a single french fry in a D.C. rail station. He's also voted to overturn a criminal fraud conviction and allow a disability suit against the transit agency.

Okaaay . . . I wonder who goes around eating single French fries, but whatever. The Endangered Species act smells of conservative "states-rights" BS, but not so strongly that it alarms me.


In another case, Roberts joined in a ruling upholding police car trunk searches even when officers did not assert evidence of a crime.

Hm, a little unsettling considering the importance that the Patriot Act will probably hold in coming years, but nothing really crazy.

Bottom line- the guy is kind of a wild card. He could do what most "conservative" judges do once they are in office, and when faced with social issues, make the kinds of rulings that madden conservatives and reassure liberals. Pretty likely, given that he has reneged on his 1990 memo concerning Roe v. Wade (as a deputy solicitor general, he stated that he wanted it overturned, but now he says he was just representing a client.) I doubt very much that he would become the same kind of ranting ideologue that Scalia has been.

But there is this danger: the guy is the president of the Big Business fan club. While he is undoubtedly going to be grilled on the abortion issue, his stance on issues like logging, air quality regulations, trust regulations, corporate accountability and other important things will probably be left unexamined by the senate committee. I really don't think that his stance on reproductive rights should be the deciding issue here. I really believe that Roe v. Wade is pretty safe right now, but we live in a country where Ken Lay is still allowed to walk free, where roadless rules in the mountains are being overturned, where tax breaks are given to the wealthiest 1 and 2 percent and Halliburton is allowed to snap up multi-billion-dollar no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq. While I am a staunch supporter of reproductive rights, we can't let that be the ONE issue that we use to weed out those we consider to be "ideologues" and those we consider to be "moderates."


  1. I agree with you 100%. I think this is a corporatist pick, not a religious pick. That's where the GOP's true allegiance rests. And that's "inoffensive" enough to enough democrats to get him a seat.

    In other words, we're focusing on the wrong thing. We've been framed--that the SC is all about abortion, like it's the only thing they ever decide on that matters to anyone.

  2. Well I think we should still worry about Roe as Bush will probably get another nominee choice. Sure, Roberts was defending a client, and he has since said he'll uphold the law of the land, but that was when he was going for the appeals court nomination. When he's on the SC, he can do what he wants once an abortion-related case comes his way. The guy may not be as outspoken as Scalia, but that doesn't mean he's any less conservative. I mean he was a George W. Bush campaign chair and a Florida recount lawyer; he's clearly a loyal Republican.