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Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts

I think it's too soon to start opposing Judge John G. Roberts. Most of us knew nothing about him before tonight. He's only been a Judge for two years. Before that he was deputy solicitor general. The legal arguments he made while working for the Government or as a corporate lawyer may or may not reflect his personal values, or how he would rule as a Supreme Court Justice.

I'd like to know more about him before I make up my mind. I don't think it helps that liberal groups are coming out swinging so soon. It has the appearance that they would oppose anyone Bush would nominate.

It's obvious we're going to get a conservative Supreme Court nominee. Bush is President and the Senate is Republican-dominated. For now, I'm just happy it wasn't a rabid right-winger like Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Edith Jones (not to be confused with Edith Clement, who probably would have been okay,) Ted Olson or one of the Fourth Circuit judges that were reportedly under consideration.

I'm more worried about Bush's second pick, the one he will make when Chief Justice Rehnquist retires, when his key aides may be out from under the gun of, or already indicted by, Fitzgerald's grand jury.

I do not want to fall into the Administration's trap of getting so distracted by this judicial nomination that I don't pay attention to other injustices of the Administration, like the war in Iraq, the detainees, military tribunals, the potential abolition of habeas corpus in death cases, and Rove Gate, to name a few.

So, when there's something big to report on Judge John G. Roberts I will, but I'm done with the topic for now.

< More on John G. Roberts' Criminal Decisions | Supreme Court's Role in the Criminal Justice System >
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  • Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Thanks for writing this. I stole it word for word and ran it on my blog. Of course, I gave you proper credit!

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Amen, sister.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    What little information we have outside of his political career does not sound encouraging. His private law partners reportedly say he's a solid conservative. We cannot afford to go backwards on issues the Federalist Society considers "over-reaching"; Roberts at the very least seems poised to do that, and on these issues, O'Connor really was the deciding vote.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Amen again. I'm going to have to quote you on my blog too. The worst thing the left could do at this point is to give a knee-jerk, predictable response. Let's just wait and see.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#5)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Well said, TL. I predict a fairly easy confirmation for Roberts. He hasn't made himself a lightning rod for criticism like some of the others you mentioned. Unless a deep, dark secret pops out of his past, I think he'll sail through.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Here's a cut and paste (my emphasis added) from an email I got from pfaw that makes it appear this guy is a typical Bush wingnut appointee: Some alarming aspects of Robert's record they must consider include: Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that issue. His brief plainly states that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the Supreme Court, which rejected his argument. Environmental Protections: As a judge, Roberts suggested in a dissent that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied to a California development case. Veteran Protections: Roberts argued American POWs tortured in Iraq during the Gulf War should not be able to utilize federal courts to pursue their claims. Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would only have gotten a paper citation in that situation. Your Senators need to hear from you today--there must not be a rush to confirm John Roberts until all the facts are in! Call and write your Senators to demand that they fulfill their constitutional obligations of advice and consent - our rights hang in the balance!

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:24 PM EST
    Ernesto - re-read what TL is saying. A good judge -- whether "liberal" or "conservative" or otherwise -- does not vote according to what he or she might think was the best way for people to behave or the best policy for the society to choose. A judge has to rule on what the law does or does not require or prohibit. Take the 12 year old eating on the subway platform for example. The entire first paragraph of the opinion by Judge Roberts is about what a bad policy the DC police had (and which they changed after the bad publicity they got over that arrest). The rest is about why the arrest wasn't unconstitutional. If you can explain why the opinion was legally wrong, ok. If not, then it doesn't matter whether you think kids who eat on the subway when it's prohibited shouldn't be arrested for it; if the arrest wasn't illegal, then mom can't sue the police over it.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#8)
    by Andreas on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    It would be a healthy reaction to "oppose anyone Bush would nominate". That guy first of all is not a President but a war criminal and mass murderer.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#9)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    IMHO, why would anyone be qualified for the Supreme of judgeships if they've only had 2 years experience?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Take the 12 year old eating on the subway platform for example.
    I'm more concerned with the school prayer/roe/endangered species items. Those show that what appears to be someone way out on the fringe was nominated as suspected...but with a short record in order to be a stealth candidate. This guy could be on the court for 30 plus years. Caveat emptor.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ray Radlein on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    At the very least, this should emphasize the importance of a frank and thorough confirmation process; since there is so very little in his judicial record by which to judge him, it is imperative that he answer all questions directed to him as completely as possible.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#12)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Speaking as a realist, I think this was about the best choice we could've expect from George W. Bush. Of all the choices he was seriously considering, I think John Roberts is one of the least objectionable mainly because of his superlative legal mind. His ideological perspectives aside, at least we have someone who has a foundation in sound jurisprudence. It could've been much worse.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    I don't think dems and liberals should let this nomination succeed in what the administration hopes it will do: take the eyes off the Rove ball. As TL pointed out, we weren't going to get a liberal nomination. Besides, conservative appointees have been known to disappoint their 'base.'

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    IMHO, why would anyone be qualified for the Supreme of judgeships if they've only had 2 years experience?
    John Marshall? Earl Warren?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    I completely agree with TL here. This guy is conservative, no doubt, but much better than the barbarians listed by TL. If we overreact, we lose our ability and credibility to oppose someone truly awful later. I read through some of his DC Cir opinions last night; while tending conservative, some stood out as representing, I think, a certain degree of judicial independence. We definitely need to hear more, but we need to use caution in opposing him just because he's conservative.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    I agree with TL too. I'm reserving judgment. Considering the circumstances, we could do so much worse than this guy. And I'm against giving much weight to the positions he argued for the government as an asst. solicitor general. He didn't get to select those positions. Technically, we did when we elected the President he served. This just reinforces why we can't take our eyes off the prize; we need to start winning some elections! It'll be hard, but let's try to turn the media back to Rove and Iraq.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Not only should we not attack the guy, we dems should enthusiastically support Roberts. He's smart and qualified. Of course he's conservative. What did you expect? I posted a similar thought last night here.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    excellent post TL. I will be reading here with much anticipation over the next few days to find out more about him. I would love to hear from Peter G. and Big Tex regarding Roberts. I often do not agree with BT but his contributions are usually very insightful.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#19)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Ernesto writes:
    Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl
    As you folks told me, about Terry Schiavo, an appeals judge is supposed to rule on the law and process, not on the evidence. rea writes:
    John Marshall? Earl Warren?
    You dirty dog. ;-) But tell me, you aren't kidding us are you?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    The heading of this blog tells it all - "Too soon to bash John G. Roberts" .... LOL I read that to mean...you'll eventually bash him, just not yet...! This post from Andreas says it all... "It would be a healthy reaction to "oppose anyone Bush would nominate". That guy first of all is not a President but a war criminal and mass murderer". LOL... typical lefty reaction. Don't let anything like facts get in the way. Let's just reject him on the fact that Bush nominated him... LMAO ... some of you are so far to the left you've ran off the road!

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    It is up to the Senate to do a thorough and careful investigation of Roberts. This site has great information. [Ed. please put urls in html format or they skew the site. We fixed this one.]

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    rea writes: John Marshall? Earl Warren? You dirty dog. ;-) But tell me, you aren't kidding us are you?
    No, I'm not kidding at all. Some of the best justices in history had no experience as judges before going on the Supreme Court. I don't see why judging experience is necessarily a qualification.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    BB, I think TL was mostly responding to attacks that have already been made on Roberts, and counseling restraint until the facts are in. Funny you find that a bad thing. The sad thing is that even though Andreas' post does sound a little off the wall, Bush has such a history of nominating lunatics to judicial positions that--were you uninformed--it might be a pretty safe bet to oppose a nomination based on the fact that Bush was the nominator. But we should confirm Roberts swiftly and enthusiastically. Then Bush can't cry about how the mean democrats won't confirm anybody he nominates when it comes to the fight over Willie's seat. Also, the Bushies are looking for ANYTHING to get Rovegate out of the news cycle, and Roberts (I believe) worked for Ken Starr. Pundits never tire of talking about Ken Starr and felonious fellatio, and if the dems start mounting serious opposition, that's all we'll hear about. Plus, as has already been said, this is the best we're going to get...and even if he is anti-Rove V. Wade, a fight now will go a long way toward making sure that the next seat is filled by someone who will make Thomas look like Marshal

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    BB is completely off base. "Too soon to bash" referred to the groups already bashing him. I am looking forward to learning more about him. BB should stop stereotyping liberals. By the way, he is one of the commenters that is limited to four comments a day on TalkLeft.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    My first impression is he is too young. He could serve a 30+ year term. That's a long arse time. I'd prefer a 60+ year old with clogged arteries.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    hahaha, yes, conservatives should stop stereotyping liberals...and hell should freeze over.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#27)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Excellent reasoning, Jeralyn. I'm afraid we need exactly this kind of Realpolitik from the liberal cause. For now, I'm just happy it wasn't a rabid right-winger like Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Edith Jones (not to be confused with Edith Clement, who probably would have been okay,) Ted Olson or one of the Fourth Circuit judges that were reportedly under consideration. I agree, but don't forget Mr. Torture. We have all hear that Bush may have him in mind for Chief Justice.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#28)
    by owenz on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    If the confirmation process demonstrates that Roberts is something less than an extremist, people on this board should consider what impact The Compromise had on his selection. I remember TL ripping The Compromise especially hard, in fact. At the end of the day, the only thing stopping Bush from appointing someone Rick Santorum and James Dobson would love are those 7 "moderate" Republican Senators. The remaining 48 Republican Senators were prepared to rubberstamp the nuclear option, after all, and the Dems would have been powerless to stop them.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    I think that it's important that the men and women elected to the Supreme Court are for human rights, and Bush and his administration are into taking away human rights. I think we have reason to distrust his nomination of a known ultraconservative judge. It is our lives on the line.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#30)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    I get the feeling from the Senate photo-op I just watched that Arlen Specter is less than thrilled. Frist and McConnell blubbered over Roberts. Specter said this:
    I concur we'll have dignified hearings. I think they will be extensive hearings because there will be many questions which will be raised, but based on Judge Roberts's qualifications, my instinct is that he'll have the answers.
    Then each of the Senators shook Roberts's hand for the photo op, but Specter walked away.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#31)
    by owenz on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:25 PM EST
    Interesting, Michael. I would have thought Spector would be more behind Roberts. We will probably get our best information in the coming weeks from ultra-conservative Republicans. What are the theocrats being told that leads them to support Roberts? Why are they holding their tongues over a possible Kennedy clone? What do they know that we don't know?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#32)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:26 PM EST
    TL.... Too soon to bash" referred to the groups already bashing him And who might that be? Any chance they are on the 'left'?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#33)
    by chris on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:26 PM EST
    For now, I'm just happy it wasn't a rabid right-winger like ... Ted Olson or one of the Fourth Circuit judges that were reportedly under consideration. Instead we get a stealth version of all of the above. who was in there with Olson in Florida ensuring the election remained stolen. Is it possible they're prepared for a pitched battle, and will then put in Clement or Brown as a "compromise?"

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#34)
    by KD on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    John Roberts may be a disaster for the environment. He worked for coal-mining interests for continuing mountaintop removal, a practice that is wrecking the Appalachian Mountains.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#35)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Just wanted to add that I visited rightwingnews.com and they had a comment section on the reaction of liberals, and I was disgusted. All I wanted to do was educate myself on both sides of the issue and they had nothing to offer but cussing and name calling. I want to thank you all for your intelligent comments and beliefs throughout the entire website...so as far as I see Liberals are not "whackjobs" and I'm proud to be one! Thank you for helping our country with your education and support!

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#36)
    by chris on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Meanwhile, I just learned what I suspected: that Roberts was one of the D.C. Circuit judges denying any rights on the part of Guantanamo detainees -- even when they're citizens. Do I need to spell out the implications here?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Instead we get a stealth version of all of the above.
    Totally agree. This guy is gonna be worse than any of the names TL feared. There are only two reasons why Bush would go with a guy with a short judicial record...to go under the radar of the anti-wingnuts or to pull a fast one on the wingnuts themselves. Which of those two sounds more logical based on Bush's track record?? We are screwed, pure and simple. Now, think back to those optimistic Liberals that dreamed out loud that Clarence Thomas would suddenly turn into a progressive friend of civil rights after the Senate confirmed him...uh oh. The only way to look at this is IN THE CONTEXT OF WHO HE REPLACES. Is he better/equal/worse than O'connor? I am guessing worse...much worse. What was the last pleasant surprise (intentionally) produced by G.W. Bush?

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#38)
    by ras on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    A number of commentators are judging John R based on whether or not they like the outcome of certain cases. But even Roberts himself often dislikes those outcomes, and on occasion states so, in no uncertain terms, in his opinions. His general philosophy seems to be that he is there to uphold the law, regardless of his own feelings about it. If it's a bad law, even in his own opinion, it is up to elected officials to change it, not judges. If anyone could cite where Roberts has not taken such an approach, I'd appreciate their posting it, thx. I'm no lawyer, but I perused a few of his dissents in his time on the court, and they consistently follow this principle, at least for those I read (not many dissents in total on that court, actually, it appears to have been almost always unanimous, lending greater weight, I think, to the reason for a dissent where it occurred). All of which means that those who want change - both libs and conservatives included - had better be prepared to elect political leaders who will do so. Judges such as John Roberts put the ball squarely in the voters' hands. It's clearly a matter of opinion within some groups as to whether or not the voters should have it.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#39)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    If anyone could cite where Roberts has not taken such an approach, I'd appreciate their posting it, thx
    Scroll up, ras. This was posted already: Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that issue. His brief plainly states that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the Supreme Court, which rejected his argument. Sounds much more like a right wing activist to me instead of an impartial arbiter.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#40)
    by ras on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:28 PM EST
    Ernesto, I was looking for examples where Roberts, as a judge, expressed non-constructionist opinions. As an advocate, he is under a legal and ethical obligation to promote a particular viewpoint, regardless of whther or not it is his own. So those tell us nothing, neither one way nor the other. BTW, sourcing your info from op-eds and headlines at Air America is not very impressive. Maybe that's why your args missed the diff between and advocate and a judge? They are not at all the same thing.

    Re: Too Soon to Bash John G. Roberts (none / 0) (#41)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:29 PM EST
    I was looking for examples where Roberts, as a judge, expressed non-constructionist opinions... Maybe that's why your args missed the diff between and advocate and a judge? They are not at all the same thing.
    And maybe that's why Bush chose someone with such a short time as a judge...so there would not be much of a discernable record on how he would vote when the next attempt to overturn Roe comes up.