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Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts

The left side of the Blogosphere is all over the map on Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts. Here are some of the various views:

Billmon: It's not a question of if we oppose him but whether we go to the mat to fight him. As of now, Billmon concludes we should save our ammunition for the next nomination - but he says the liberal lawyer-types discussing the nomination need to learn to fight dirtier because this is all about a continuation of the Republican's down and dirty power grab.

Jeralyn is taking the classic rationalist approach to questions of fact: let both sides argue their case, sift and weigh the evidence, then decide. It's how lawyers, and most particularly judges, are trained to look at the world.

But it's also the classically liberal approach to politics, in which the struggle for power is treated like some kind of glorified courtroom debate, with strict rules of evidence, an impartial umpire (the judge) and 12 jurors, straight and true, to render a verdict.

Armando at Daily Kos takes issue with some of Billmon's comments, particularly this one:

If the Dems really wanted to stop Roberts, they'd bork him -- bork him like nobody has ever been borked before (see above.) It probably wouldn't work, but it's the only strategy I can think of that possibly could work.

Armando says that's not smart politics. He agrees with Sen. Harry Reid's statements and wants to wait until the confirmation hearings and then let Roberts prove to us why he should be confirmed, which he can do by answering honestly the tough questions about his views on topics like Roe v. Wade.

Still later, Billmon makes an analogy to the Godfather and says Dems need to be neither weak like Fredo nor implulsive and emotional like Sonny, but cold and calculating like Michael - and that being fair-minded and listening to all sides doesn't cut it because in the end, Dems need to do what's good for "the Family."

Taking another tack altogether are Chris at My DD and America Blog have already come out swinging against Roberts.

Last night most of us agreed that we weren't going to fall into the Republican trap of fighting about Roberts while Rove Gate slides off the map.

Yellow Dog makes that point again today, and reminds us that confirmation hearings won't get underway until after Labor Day because the Senate recesses during August.

Meantime, we will continue to focus like a laser on the fact that the closest person to the President of the United States intentionally disclosed the identity of a covert CIA operative and is under investigation by a grand jury in Washington.

I don't mind reporting on Roberts when there is something to report. As I said last night,

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.

I think liberals need to remember two things: First, the enemy is not in here, it is outside this room.

Second, we're going to get a conservative on the Supreme Court no matter what. That's because Bush won the election and the Republicans control the Senate. A Bush nominee would have to be filibustered to lose. Most of us never heard of John Roberts before yesterday, and while it's troubling that the right wing is filled with glee over the choice today, let's see if the liberal interest groups like PFAW and Alliance for Justice come up with anything of substance to use to oppose the guy. If not, let's strike where the iron is hottest, and that's on RoveGate.

President Bush's legacy will be in smithereens if his top brass are indicted. He'll be compared to Nixon. The entire Republican party will suffer. And that will provide us leverage for the 2006 Congressional elections and for 2008. What's the point of shouting about John Roberts now? If nothing of substance comes up about him, we'll be like the little boy who cried wolf, and no one will listen to us when someone like Janice Rogers Brown is Bush's next Supreme Court pick.

Which brings to mind one other point. What chance do we have with fighting Roberts when the Democratic gang of 7 sold us out on Priscilla Owen and Rogers Brown?

< Judge John Roberts: Too Soon to Jump Off the Cliff | An Uber-Righter Bashes Roberts Nomination >
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  • Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#1)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    I'm pretty sure Billmon stole that godfather analogy from something on Al Franken last week... Josh Marshall or Joe Conason, IIRC. Let the Senate do its job. If it fails to do its job, then we raise holy hell and use it for leverage in '06. '06 is the prize, that's what we've got to keep our eyes on. The entire house of Representatives turns over in '06. In '06 we don't have the confusion of DeLay's gerrymanders to deal with. We could take back the legislature next year...all it takes is a little effort. The Republicans are tanking. Their poll numbers are sinking. Problem is that so are the Democrats. Does anyone really think that eviscerating a guy we know nothing about is going to score any points for us?

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#2)
    by Lis Riba on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Interesting essay here over how bloggers are reacting to the nomination as it relates to abortion rights. [Ed. please put urls in html format or they skew the site and will be deleted. We fixed this one.]

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    John Roberts has more going for him than just a great intellect and a winning personality. He has enough votes to pass in the Senate. We can't apparently block him. Plus, let's be glad he isn't one of the nutters (Owens, Luttig, Jones, take your pick) that were floated as possibilities. Let's also realize he has a strong commitment to public service other than just what you are hearing touted about & appears to be a genuine believer in giving back to the community. He has represented those who have lost welfare benefits pro bono. He assisted in defense of a guy on death row in Florida (ok, it was small role in the defense of John Ferguson but nonetheless a role he could have radily avoided as someone on the "feeder list" for a federal judgeship). He has helped friends representing enviromental groups in front of the SCOTUS, including, in at least one case arguing & winning for enviromental causes. He has represnted indigent criminal defendants / petitioners in the SCOTUS and won (I am familiar with at least one win in a double jeopardy case). He stated at his last confirmation hearings grave concerns about the quality of counsel in death cases and concerns the appeals process doesn't always catch everyone falling through the cracks. Indeed, at his last confirmation hearing in response to a question about the 100+ exonerations he noted "when you're talking about capital punishment, it is the ultimate sanction, and sort of getting it right in most cases isn't good enough." Would Mr. Roberts my choice if I was POTUS? No. I face the reality, however, that we lost the election, Bush could have pushed through a much more radical judge (like those listed above), and, bottom line, we don't have enough votes to block. We only have so much good will with the American public to block judicial nominees, lets not waste it on this lost cause. - PS Why is it those complaining most are those who voted Nader in 2000 and thereby gave Bush this opportunity?

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    What's the point of shouting about John Roberts now? If nothing of substance comes up about him, we'll be like the little boy who cried wolf, and no one will listen to us when someone like Janice Rogers Brown is Bush's next Supreme Court pick. I completely agree, which is exactly why I'm not advocating a knock down drag out fight over Roberts. But if anyone really DOES want to make a serious effort to block him, the only way to do it would be to really slam the corporate fat cat angle (and any other junk that could be hurled at him) and do it a lot harder than I suspect any liberal interest group is willing or able to. But if Roberts can't be blocked, is there anything to be gained by trying to drag out the confirmation process? He doesn't have much of a judicial record to publicize, and the issues he's most vulnerable on (i.e. kowtowing to corporate power) aren't exactly ones that guys like Joe Biden are eager to spotlight. It's probably best to make the best of a bad situation and wave him through -- while blowing a lot of smoke about what a reasonable (i.e. not stone wacko) conservative he really is. Maybe it would plant some seeds of doubt in wing nut minds -- "Gee, if the 'rats think he's OK, there must be something wrong with him." I'm pretty sure Billmon stole that godfather analogy from something on Al Franken last week... Josh Marshall or Joe Conason, IIRC The only thing I saw was Josh, and he was comparing the Rovians to the Corleones -- and the Republican Senators singing Rove's praises to Sen. Gearan's big speech at Michael's committee hearing. But everybody loves the Godfather, so you're probably right. Let's also realize he has a strong commitment to public service other than just what you are hearing touted about & appears to be a genuine believer in giving back to the community. You know, I'm sure Roberts loves his wife, kids and dog, but do we REALLY have to help circulate the GOP talking points for the guy? He's helped roll back a lot of legal protections and social advances in this country, and no doubt hopes to roll back a lot more on the Supreme Court. To me, that kinda outweighs his "strong commitment to public service." At this point, I wish Roberts had a much weaker commitment to public service. No offense, but comments like that are an example of what I call "the liberal disease" -- an excessive concern about being fair to our enemies.

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#5)
    by aahpat on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    [non working link deleted] As Americablog has noted from a Bloomberg Business News report today, the White House pushed up the announcement of the supreme Court nomination to take the attention away from coverage of Karl Rove's alleged misdeeds. If the left wing of America ignores the nomination it gives the media nothing to distract them from the Rove treason.

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#6)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    aahpat and ATTENTION EVERYONE WARNING the link you posted to "LeftIndependent" connects to a browser hijacking site known as "About:Blank", please check your system because it appears you've been infiltrated. Recently one of my hard drives was completely corrupted by this advertising worm installer.

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#7)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Although I'm skeptical of any one sitting on the Supreme Court with so little judicial experience, I think this was far and away the best pick that George Bush could have made, given his limited choices. Ideology aside, John Roberts impresses me with the caliber of his mind. A true scholar, his successful record of arguments before the Supreme Court speaks volumes about his abilities. Likely Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were both intimidated by the power of his logic when he argued before them. In comparison they are both mental midgets. Unfortunately, given the underhanded, secretive and stealth tactics of the Bush administration, it's quite possible that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Someone who pretends to be one thing in order to advance their career, while hiding their true self. We'll see. That said, I think he will be easily confirmed, especially considering his credentials and the fact that there is no one that the Bush machine could nominate who would be more acceptable to either side. While he appears to have some antichoice leanings, there's no knowing whether his ideology will influence his decisions on the bench, I hope not. But if he shows the ethical structure which his background suggests, those on the right will be sorely disappointed. Because he'll be siding with Souter, a true judicial scholar, every time and quietly laughing at Scalia and Thomas, the way smart people always laugh at the feeble arguments of their underlings. If so look for him to make Chief Justice someday.

    Re: Liberals vs. Liberals on John Roberts (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:27 PM EST
    Billmon: Perhaps my differences with you is that I actually am not a pundit, I am a lawyer. I am a lawyer who represents poor people. I represent people who, if they could rub two nickels together would triple their net worth. For the rest of my legal career I will have to live with the jurisprudence of who ever gets confirmed. Despite the attempted ad hominem about "liberal disease" of being fair to our enemies I could care less. I don't see Roberts as an enemy and his records bears it out. He didn't have to do pro bono for the poor. He didn't have to do pro bono work for a guy on death row in Florida. He didn't have to handle indigent defense cases before the Supreme Court. He didn't have to do pro-enviromental work for friends before the Court. All these things indicate to me that he is someone who understands that the legal profession has an obligation to protect the powerless. Despite the seeming ad hominem attack concerning "liberal disease" of being fair to our enemies the difference between Roberts and a possible nominee like "Lucifer Luttig" or "Edith the Hun" is that he actually will impact the lives of the people I represent. Perhaps it doesn't make good spin on left-leaning blogs note that when chosing how to spend his time Robert has a record of chosing to help people in need rather than screw them. But at the end of the day, for the next 30 or so years until I retire, the clients I represent, in Roberts get to have a Justice who has shown he has a heart, and in the marginal world where my clients live that matters. Maybe that doesn't ring well in the blogosphere, but I could care less.