Earlier this week, in a nationally televised announcement befitting the importance of the occasion, President Bush introduced his nominee to the United States Supreme Court. He named Washington, D.C. circuit court judge John Roberts to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
But just who is John Roberts, and why should you care? Why is this whole Supreme Court thing such a big deal? Why are you going to be saturated with coverage of Roberts’ confirmation hearings, and why is the same thing going to happen as the President makes even more appointments in the future.
First, let’s get the biography out of the way. John Roberts is a 50-year old married father of two children, a native of Buffalo, New York who graduated magna cum laude from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. While at Harvard he served as Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Out of law school in 1980, Roberts clerked for current Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He moved on to become an associate counsel to the Reagan administration, and then took on the position of deputy solicitor general under the first George Bush, arguing cases for the government position in front of the Supreme Court. He became a general partner with the firm of Hogan & Hartson, where he again argued a number of cases in front of the high court. He was nominated by the current President Bush to the D.C. court of appeals, where he was confirmed in 2003.
The academic, legal, and professional credentials of John Roberts to serve on the United States Supreme Court are beyond question and challenge. Even ultra-liberal Democratic leader Harry Reid said “The President has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials”.
Suitable? Come on Harry, you can be a little more enthusiastic than that for our nation, can’t you?
There comes the problem, the reason that you should know as much as you can about John Roberts. Over the next couple of months, Roberts is likely to be attacked, pilloried and have his good name and sterling reputation besmirched by a number of ultra-liberal individuals and groups who would oppose any generally conservative nominee put forward by President Bush.
Expect that he will face scathing, attack-style questioning from the likes of Reid, Teddy Kennedy and advocates for places such as the pro-abortion group NARAL, which has already come out publicly against his nomination.
Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa asked “Who knows about this guy?” when the nomination was announced. Well, there are two answers, Senator. If you mean his personal and professional record, it is right there to see. The guy is “brilliant”, as classy Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum put it . He is perfect for the job. To put it in the vernacular of the President’s favorite sport, he is a homerun.
Ah, but that is not what Senator Harkin is really asking, now is it? What Harkin wants to know is where John Roberts stands on key topics and controversial issues, such as abortion, religion, free speech and civil rights. He wants to know if Roberts will make largely conservative rulings, like those of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, or will he be more moderate, as was O’Connor perceived.
Well, you know what Mr. Senator, you just don’t know now, do you? And you know what, you are not going to know, not for awhile, and neither are any of us. When nominated by the first President Bush, it was expected that Justice David Souter was going to be a conservative. Ditto when O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Neither turned out to be the case.
So we can poke and probe away at every last word that John Roberts has uttered in public for the past twenty years. We can dissect his law school papers, read up on his arguments in front of the high court as a lawyer. The liberals can be wary of a remark he made back in 1990 in a brief that he co-wrote that stated “The court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion…finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.”
This is the rub. The liberals are deathly afraid that John Roberts not only has respect for, but will cast his votes in support of the United States Constitution, a document that is the basic law of the land on which our nation was founded, and under which we have grown and thrived. Roberts is right, the Constitution supports no “right” to an abortion. The liberal fear is that, unlike some other Justices who know this but choose to legislate from the bench, Roberts will actually let the Constitution be his guide.
There is every indication that John Roberts is an “originalist”, that he clearly sees the value in the original meaning of our Constitutional framers, and that he is prepared to cast his votes in this manner. This is the type of jurist that President Bush promised us all along that he would nominate, and I am quite sure that Roberts had to answer a few important questions from him in this regard before being offered the position.
So you now have a general idea of just who John Roberts is, and what makes him tick. And in understanding that Democrats in general and liberals in particular are going to attack the nomination vehemently, you understand the importance of knowing him.
Liberals are going to attack him because they fear him. They are also going to attack him because they fear even more the next nomination to the court that President Bush will likely make in the next year or so, to replace ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It is expected that nomination will be even more obviously conservative, and the liberals will feel that they need to put up a strong fight on Roberts to show the administration just what they will be up against next time around.
I say, bring on the fight, Dems. Swing away, libs. Take your best shot. The President, and thus his Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, have a large army of us in their corner fighting right along side them, and there will be no “Borking” of Roberts or any future Bush nominee. This is exactly what we have been waiting for since Election Dday 2000.