This wild-eyed lefty blogger thinks we have the best Supreme Court nominee the American public could deserve or expect, considering the President we elected twice.
The best outcome anyone can hope for given any Supreme Court vacancy is a nominee who is educationally and experientially well-prepared to consider complex constitutional issues, and who has shown himself a person of excellent judgment and character. To all appearances, Judge Roberts will be a thoughtful constitutional judge.
All the current hand-wringing, posturing, and outrage by Democrats is, I suppose, somehow useful or necessary to future fights, but we can hardly be surprised that a conservative president has selected a conservative nominee. In an unbroken American political tradition, presidents have always nominated candidates who share their political leanings. I mean, duh.
I’m grateful that Mr. Bush took someone’s very good advice concerning his huge responsibility to select a nominee who might make thoughtful decisions over a long period, who might strongly influence or even lead the court, and who has the capacity to deeply impact the country, albeit for good or ill. I’m also grateful that Mr. Bush did not select some fringey right-wing extremist type (we don’t need any more of those on the court. Or any more justices of dubious credentials, experience, or reputation.)
A woman or an ethnic minority would have been nice, all things being equal, but I saw no conservative ethnic or female nominee with equivalent qualifications.
Supreme Court justices are always a crapshoot anyway. Indeed, if this guy goes south on us and completely forgets that the job of a judge is to weigh all sides of an argument fairly, I’ll sadly chew very tough crow. Indeed, Roberts may make a terrible justice; one can never know. All such predictions are mere risk-calculation and glorified guesswork. Left-leaning justices sometimes swing right, solid conservatives like O’Conner sometimes move center, and sometimes we get a justice who turns a little nutty—or nutty-er. Then it’s up to the other justices to work hard to shape, mold, rein in, or sit on the new guy or gal.
Roberts’ relative youth is a smart choice too. Of course we would rather the young ones with years of influence ahead were liberals. But it’s good that Roberts is generationally close to the nation’s youngish folks and thus may better relate to our rapidly changing culture and the myriad new issues being raised, and it’s good that he has a young mind which may not have stopped opening and growing.
Judge Roberts has apparently worked amazingly hard, has shown integrity, character, and sound judgment in every phase of his life so far (except in choosing to be a conservative, heh-heh) and he has demonstrated a capacity for independent thought. His brilliant wife (also an independent thinker deeply concerned with ethics and trained in law) can only be an asset to him. His young adopted children are also a factor in his favor, as they may humanize and keep him grounded.
Can Roberts relate to the common man? Does he have as-yet unrevealed weaknesses? (Every other human being has; why not he?) Will our privacy rights (which cover abortion) be threatened? Maybe. Hope not. But Roberts is the best candidate we could have expected from our system when it’s working as well as it can, given our current President.
The very complex, fine-line, difficult-to-weigh-and-decide, arguably this-or-that cases that come before the Supreme Court are best considered by a group of thinkers who represent the broad range of American constitutional thought, both left and right. Even I don’t want a Supreme Court packed with only liberal thinkers; I hardly have that much faith that I’m always right, and the court will never be served by hordes of knee-jerk partisan yes-men. Besides, some of my opinions are proudly rightish.
Finally, I’m surprised and pleased that this nominee is apparently not an extremist, but possibly, in fact, almost main-streamish-y, sort of.
We could all wish for a more representative government, and we could wish for a less politically influenced and influential Supreme Court. But, given the government we have, in this particular instance, President Bush has done exactly what he’s supposed to do. For a change.
If we want to confirm an equally qualified, more left-leaning justice when Justice Rehnquist or whoever it is next steps down, we should support Judge Roberts’ nomination, thus earning the legislative reciprocity we’ll need when our own shiny-new president (some day soon–they're all getting old!) nominates a slew of similarly qualified liberal justices.