What's Wrong/Right With Judge Roberts?

Now that we know President Bush is nominating Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court, what is right or wrong with this judge with respect to him serving on the highest court?

In short, what do we think about his judicial philosophy? Judicial temperament? Judicial opinions? Personal beliefs? Comments from supporters/detractors?

This link attempts to answer a number of those questions, and has a very thoughtful (albeit perhaps overly optimistic) from one legal observer who thinks Roberts will comprise part of the centrist core on the court, along with Kennedy and Breyer.

I find his decisions and actions troubling. Such as:

Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991) Roberts argued that they "continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled . " Putting him on the SC is a threat to reproductive freedom.

Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263 (1993) Roberts filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990) Roberts co-authored the government brief in this this case arguing that the Flag Protection Act of 1989 was constitutional. In this case, Roberts reveals himself as an enemy of free speech.

Hedgepeth v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 386 F.3d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2004):
Roberts joined the majority in a ruling against the mother of a 12 year old who was searched, handcuffed, had her shoelaces removed, fingerprinted, and held for three hours until released to her mother. Her crime: eating a single French fry on the DC Metro. The mother’s claims that the excessive actions of the police violated her daughter’s equal protection (adults who were guilty of the same violation received a citation while juveniles got arrested) Roberts is an enemy of individual freedom and a friend of the police state.

I think Roberts is too far to the right and outside of any reasonable mainstream.

Honestly? If you put all that up against Bork’s opinions when he was nominated, Roberts is practically running around in Vladimir Lenin underoos. I think we should let him slide through. First of all, this is the closest we’re probably going to get to a compromise candidate. No, the Dems didn’t get what they wanted exactly. But I think that, despite all the cheering being done in the various right-wing snakepits, that when everything shakes down and we see what kind of justice Roberts will be, neither will the Republicans have gotten that. Second of all, we don’t have the clout in Congress to block him without burning an awful lot of political capital. Third, there’s still Rehnquist’s seat to think about, and Chief Justice is a lot bigger bird than associate. Let’s not blow our wad on someone who’s not even close to rabid.

I say we go jujitsu on Bush. Let his momentum on the Roberts thing carry him to his own fall rather than trying to leverage him down. If we don’t put up a fuss about Roberts (who doesn’t really merit one, IMO), then the focus won’t be shifting from Rove. We keep the thumbscrews on about what really matters and we’ll be golden. AND positioned for the Chief Justice firestorm when it comes up.

This was not his argument. It was his employer’s argument. (Although Roberts on the Supreme Court may well be a threat to reproductive freedom.)

He did not support Operation Rescue. His employer supported Operation Rescue.

This was not his argument. It was his employer’s argument. (Although Roberts may well believe that flag-burning is not protected speech.)

Roberts and the majority here were absolutely bound in their result by the Supreme Court’s decision in Atwater v. Lago Vista. (Although Roberts may well be yada yada.)

I have, on my bulletin board at home, a clipping of a letter to the editor of the local paper that I wrote during the Clarence Thomas confirmation/sexual harrassment hearings. The editor, pulling a phrase from the letter, headlined it “A New Dark Age”.

Do you know why I keep that clipping, after all these years? Because it reminds me that I have a tendency to go apeshit reactionary over conservative political moves, and it reminds me that I’m not always right about how those conservative political moves are going to play out. Clarence Thomas is hardly a new Torquemada, as I wrote in not-so-many-words way back then. And Roberts is a fairly mild choice given the pool Bush had to pick from and the constituency he tends to throw bones to.

While much is made of how his arguments were made in the representation of his client, the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic suggests a strong possibility that he is against abortion and wouldn’t mind limited Roe. While there are plenty of Catholics out there who would respect the right to an abortion (a la John Kerry), it is somewhat of a safe guess to say that he probably isn’t one of them.

Many of Roberts’ actions were indeed advocacy of the positions of clients. If in his hearings he stated that those were not his personal positions, then I’d reconsider. But I think it more likely that he got those cases to argue precisely because he believed in the same things as his clients.

I’m going to agree with jayjay for now. As far as I’ve been able to learn, this is about the best we could have hoped for from Bush. I think that this might actually be his idea of a compromise nomination.

Are you really saying that no individual who is personally pro-life would be a suitable candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy?

Why do you think that to be “more likely”? How familiar are you with the way cases are apportioned as between the Solicitor General and his four (count 'em, only four) deputies?

And there’s the rub. Unless this guy can answer some very tough questions candidly in the near future, we have, at best, suspicions.

That said, my guess is those suspicions are entirely justified, the fears they illicit entirely realisitic, and are held because of what is quite probably Roberts’ true ideological stance.

Roberts is apparrently smart enough to anticipate the questions he will be asked, memorize well-formulated answers, and then spout them at will. Someone in the Senate has to think of some good curve balls, and demand clear, unambiguous answers.

And then what? Hold our breath waiting for a pro-choice nominee to come out of the White House?

I think jayjay nailed it. There could have been worse choices than Roberts. Go ahead and give him his grilling, confirm him, and gird our loins for the battle that counts.

To a point, I agree with the last paragraph. I’m sure he could have done worse. But if the Court is pretty much in balance, turning the swing vote slightly to the right is a much bigger concern of mine than Rehnquist’s seat. Rehnquist is one of the conservative stalwarts, replacing him in kind doesn’t change much.

Moreover, Roberts was highly critical of the police policy and conduct in the case. he just ruled, as he had to, that it didn’t rise to the level of a constitutional violation, as Atwater v. Lago Vista made perfectly clear. The Constitution is not a Holy Writ to cure all ills. Police can be assholes without violating the Constitution.

Not at all. I think abortion is pretty horrible and would fully support it no longer being a federal Constitutional right if more funding went in to adoption agencies and better screening of potential foster families. But that’s just one insignificant person’s opinion.

All I was trying to say was that the chances are pretty good that he is personally pro-life and not in the vein of others like John Kerry who distinguish their personal feelings from any sort of obligation they feel to support precedent, the views of their constituents, etc.

I’m pretty much resigned to the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade at this point. But there’s more to this nomination than abortion. There’s a whole host of issues surrounding federal regulations and standards about which Roberts’ apparent contstructionist ideology provides cause for great concern.

Based on what I think you’re implying, though, those worthy issues are going to take a waay back seat to abortion rights, and, given the rancor that issue will bring to the cruel light of day, one could certainly do worse than Roberts, I suppose.

I don’t have a major beef against Judge Roberts. I do have a minor beef that his views seem to be a bit more conservative than I’d like, but given the odds of this Administration nominating a Justice I could really get behind were slim and none, I can’t really fault this.

Have to disagree with jayjay, though – IMO, Thomas is a clear example of how a right-wing extremist can disguise himself as a “moderate”, then show his true beliefs after he gets confirmed.

And that might be a legitimate reason for you, personally, to oppose him, but is it a legitimate reason for Congress not to confirm his nomination? Are you saying that we can’t alter the current make-up of the court? What if Kerry had won, and was replacing O’Conner with someone like Ginsberg?

To be fair, he thought the policy was stupid, just not unconstitutional.


Huh? You mean that if a politician is pro-life, he should keep those opinions to himself since it is merely a personal opinion?

Anyway, a politician does have a responsiblity to reflect the views of his constituents, since they’re the ones who hire and fire him. Judges have no such duty. Judges are bound to follow the constitution and the law, they have no constituents. And what makes you sure that Roberts–since it is clear he is pro-life–will therefore throw out the law and the constitution and precedent and the will of the American people when he makes decisions?

And lastly, even if Roberts voted to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, for foam-flecked ideological reasons or well thought out constitutional reasons, that doesn’t follow that the will of the American people will therefore be thwarted. If the American people really don’t want to criminalize abortion all they have to do is not vote for politicians who try to criminalize abortion. Roe v. Wade didn’t make abortion legal, it forbade making abortion illegal, and overturning Roe v. Wade won’t make abortion illegal.