gregs210 - 9/19/2005 5:41 PM
Third, I misspoke: I meant Judge Roberts' judicial integrity. Nothing he's done on the federal bench demonstrates he believes anything other than what he's said in the hearings. He's probably conservative in his personal views -- about which we can only make an educated guess -- but his judicial philosophy (i.e. his view of the judiciary's role as a branch of the government) is conservative, not liberal or "activist".
I think the nominee should be able to be questioned on his or her judicial philosophy and called out to explain the logic behind prior legally significant decisions or opinions. In that regard I think the responses to questions were evasive and purposely, and very likely legally, vague. That in and by itself is revealing and reason to be suspicious. The nominee is not yet the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. We have a right to know enough about him to be convinced he is capable of serving with honor and distinction. We have no need for an adequate Chief Justice.
gregs210 - 9/19/2005 5:41 PM
Fourth, everyone's squawking about the positions he took when employed by others. So what? Let's use an example: suppose you're charged with a crime and you hire an attorney. You tell him how you want to proceed and he says, "Gee, sorry, I can't do that, I'd rather do something different based on a personal belief. What you're asking is neither illegal nor immoral, but I just don't want to do that." Or you have an attorney and in your business you tell him you're considering doing something and want a legal position on it, but he says, "Nope, I don't agree with that. It's perfectly legal, but I'm personally opposed." That's not what you hire an attorney for. You hire an advocate and set the direction for his or her representation of you. Nor is the attorney allowed to do that: he can fire the client, but if he doesn't follow the client's lawful directions, he can be disciplined by the bar. Last thought in this area: as a judge/justice he's "retained" pretty much by the Constitution -- in a sense, that's his/her client -- and not by any particular party or person. And the beauty of the lifetime appointment is that he's not beholden to the person who appoints him, so s/he can seek to fulfill the constricts of the Constitution without fear of damaging a political connection. I can easily think of a few justices whose decisions have not mirrored what the appointing president probably would have preferred, and I'm going to guess that Roberts will probably surprise Bush in the years to come. In fact, even at this stage I (along with Dianne Feinstein) was surprised to hear him openly affirm one of the basic constitutional underpinnings of the Roe decision that is commonly attacked, and I'm sure there's more to come.
I think my earlier remarks were written too poorly to be followed easily. The point is, when I hire a lawyer to defend me in a criminal case, I may or may not be guilty. The lawyer's job is to provide me with the best defense he can, and force the prosecution to make a throrough investigation of my guilt and present their case logically enough to convince a jury of my peers of my guilt. A typical tactic, included under the premise of providing the best defense possible, is critiquing the prosecution's case, from data gathered, methods used to gather the data, the applicability of the data to the case, and so on. Not Guilty verdicts are often the result of finding procedural flaws and exagerating their meaning. For that kind of legal prowess, I think Roberts has demonstrated his skills can match just about anyone else in the profession.
On the other hand, if I am setting out on a course of action that is somewhat questionable legally, and I seek advice and counsel from an attorney, I would expect the attorney to provide advice based on their interpretation of the law, their understanding of the intent of the law, and any documented legal precedent. I would not find counsel based on legal technicalities that in sum contradicts the intent of the written law and precedents of substantial value even if it is based on the lawyer's interpretation of my desire to do something in particular. In that case the advice ahead of time is moot. I should have just done what I wanted and then, if it turned out to get me into trouble I could just hire the man as a criminal defense lawyer to get me off the hook based on some procedural error on the part of the prosecution's investigation team.
The Constitution, as revered as it might be, is a freaking document and is no one's boss. The Chief Justice is charged with specific responsibilities. In this case I think the nominee's responses to direct questions were overly evasive. Some were intentionally misleading - and I would include all the vague statements made with regard to Roe vs. Wade in the intentionally misleading category. Based on the responses I expect to see a steady dismantling of precedent that irks conservatives, all at the expense of personal freedoms, with a great deal of the logic depending on tiptoeing from legal spin doctored technicality to legal spin doctored technicality as needed to justify the politically directed decisions, and all without regard to personal writings of the authors of the Constitution framing the intent as favoring the freedom of the individual over the power of the state at virtually every point where these two characteristics seems to confront or compete with each other.
gregs210 - 9/19/2005 5:41 PM
Last, overall I agree: for all of the ranting and posturing in the hearings, in the end it's more of the same; he's a moderate/conservative replacing a moderate/conservative. That said, I still think he's a great candidate, for that role I wouldn't want an extremist anyway.
I am no more enlightened by having listened to his responses to the questions concerning what he is or is not. This is especially true of whether or not he is qualified, based on his responses, to be selected to lead the United States Supreme Court. Jim