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Sunstein on Roberts:
Over at the Los Angeles Times LiveCurrent blog, Cass Sunstein writes:
  Judge Roberts has a first-rate mind and by all accounts he's a wonderful person. In addition, his opinions to date are excellent and they show a healthy respect for people who disagree with him. It's far too soon to reach any final conclusions — the process has just started — but Judge Roberts combines quality with a fine character, and that's certainly something to applaud.
Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
Well, now I am nervous.
7.21.2005 4:57pm
Rough Justice (mail):
If you believe there is a meaningful process, then how did Clarence Thomas ever get on the court? He is neither a first-rate mind nor a wonderful person. The truth is that the confirmation process is a meaningless charade. The senators are a bunch of rich frauds themselves who pander to the tv cameras. Arlen Specter, a so-called moderate republican, had the goods on Anita Hill in his coat pocket, remember. Shame on the American people for accepting these con artists for our leaders. An international embarrassment, the Supreme Ct. put Shrubya on the presidential throne. The law is a hoax and the lawyers and judges who practice it are the abetting sorcerers. No wonder the Harry Potter books are so popular; they reflect the illusion of justice in the real world. I saw Professor Sunstein on Nightline and he said nothing of importance at all. (And isn't very telegenic either.) Koppel and Nina Totenburg were the only people who asked or said anything bright at all.
7.21.2005 5:24pm
Jeremy (mail):
It's not "far too soon" to reach any final conclusions. The guy has already been confirmed for the DC Court of Appeals, his resume is stellar, and his opinions are quite well written and well within the judicial mainstream. The man was carefully selected by the President of the United States, and that outta count for something.

The fact that the ultra-leftists have been unable to gin up anything approaching a substantive criticism in the last couple of days proves that he's perfectly qualified to serve on the high court. They've been doing opposition research for months on all reasonably potential nominees, and John Roberts has been in the short list for a very long time.

Sunstein is being just plain disingenuous when he states that "the process [of vetting Judge Roberts] has just started."
7.21.2005 5:26pm
Adam (mail) (www):
The absence of evidence is not the same as the existence of proof, Jeremy. His career has not lent itself to the kind of paper trail which can be combed easily.

[Which begs the question: why are conservatives so happy with these vague assurances and no paper trail? Is there some 'dog whistle' pitch I'm missing which would confirm that Roberts has a particular judicial philosophy, or is it just We Trust Bush?]
7.21.2005 5:43pm
Steve:
Why do we even hold hearings? Jeremy is clearly right that if you can't find an automatic disqualifier in the first two days, the nomination is a foregone conclusion.
7.21.2005 5:56pm
42USC1983 (mail):
Rough Justice: Have you ever met or chatted with Justice Thomas, or do you only know about him from TV? I've never met anyone who actually met or knew Jusice Thomas say the things you've said. But I'm always eager to meet exceptions. Thanks.
7.21.2005 6:16pm
flaime:
All I have to say about Roberts is that I believe he continues the trend in this country of selecting judges who fail to recognize that the PEOPLE are the ones with the preemptory rights, no the government or the corporations.
7.21.2005 6:27pm
Igglephan:
Anybody who's ever been met by anyone has met someone with bad things to say about them. Anita Hill doesn't think Justice Thomas is a nice person, no doubt, but most people have never met her.

I heard Professor Sunstein on NPR yesterday, and there are plenty of questions to be asked on Judge Roberts' views of Congressional and Executive power. Just because he is very likely to be confirmed does not mean that both sides should not use this opportunity to ask about, variously, the Imperial Presidency or the Constitution in Exile.
7.21.2005 6:30pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Rough Justice, did you get lost on your way to Daily Kos? This isn't a blog for non-sensical rants against the Bush Administration (or the judiciary), but there are plenty of them around if you need to get something off your chest.

Thanks for dropping by.
7.21.2005 6:35pm
Jeremy (mail):

The absence of evidence is not the same as the existence of proof, Jeremy.


Proof of what? Proof of a negative, that there's nothing scary in Judge Roberts' past? Judge Roberts' resume shows he is unquestionably smart enough and experienced enough for the high court. Only a closeted skeleton should deny him confirmation at this point. You can't prove a negative, Adam, and months of opposition research on Judge Roberts has turned up absolutely nothing, or we would have heard about it by now.


Why do we even hold hearings?


"We" didn't used to. Senate hearings on judicial nominees are a relatively recent invention. And certainly, Steve, you aren't naive enough to think that Senators actually change their minds based on testimony at hearings. Hearings on Republican judicial nominees are nothing but show trials where liberal Judiciary Committee members pander to their base and smear the nominee.
7.21.2005 6:38pm
WB:
Rough Justice is actually Harry Reid... pay no mind.

Good to hear Cass Sunstein's comments.

Brian Leiter has a few interesting thoughts on John Roberts, too. Not all good, not all bad, and written in the typical style of a Brian Leiter blog post...

I disagree with his sentiment that John Roberts shouldn't be confirmed, but the rest of the post is one of the most level-headed assessments of the situation that I've read so far, one of the others being Balkin's op-ed.

One can read "strategic implications" into the praise from the left of John Roberts, but it sounds sincere, and to me is one more sign that Roberts should be confirmed.
7.21.2005 6:41pm
Ron:

Which begs the question: why are conservatives so happy with these vague assurances and no paper trail?


Cherche la femme.
7.21.2005 6:56pm
Adam (mail) (www):
Jeremy, let me state it more slowly, then: of course the credentials are there. However, because John Roberts' career largely has been as an advocate, not a judge, he has not had the opportunity, thus far, to express his personal judicial philosophy. Presumably, he has one, and hopefully, it is not noxious. But it is a proper inquiry for the Senate, and can be done without asking how he'd rule on specific cases. For example:

Do you believe it is appropriate to consult international law in interpreting the Constitution?

Do you believe that, as a Supreme Court justice, you are free to overturn any precedent you believe was wrongly decided?

Do you believe that examining legislative history and debate are useful in statutory interpretation?

Ron: I believe that's part of it.
7.21.2005 7:23pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"the Imperial Presidency"... "Constitution in Exile"... "Justice Thomias is neither first-rate nor a wonderful person"... Anita Hill...

My guess is we got linked from ACSblog...
7.21.2005 7:38pm
Steve:
That was quite the rant, but when I'm getting told that "Hearings on Republican judicial nominees are nothing but show trials where liberal Judiciary Committee members pander to their base and smear the nominee," it seems clear that we are dealing with closed-minded attitudes from both sides...
7.21.2005 7:51pm
Jeremy (mail):
Adam,

I'm not sure how one expresses something "more slowly" in print. I have understood everything you've written thus far, and your vieled implication that I'm somehow too stupid to understand what you've said is unhelpful. It's not that I can't figure out what you're saying, I just think you're generally wrong.

JUDGE Roberts is a DC Court of Appeals Judge. It's not a particularly simple matter these days to get confirmed as a federal appellate judge, and plenty of questions about Judge Roberts' judicial philosophy were asked and answered during his last hearing before the judiciary committee. Your remark that "[Judge Roberts] has not had the opportunity, thus far, to express his personal judicial philosophy" is simply wrong as a factual matter.

Further, anyone who can get through a Senate confirmation to a federal appellate court these days has the character, but not necessarily the credentials, to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Roberts clearly has the credentials too.

Steve:

You said:


That was quite the rant, but when I'm getting told that "Hearings on Republican judicial nominees are nothing but show trials where liberal Judiciary Committee members pander to their base and smear the nominee," it seems clear that we are dealing with closed-minded attitudes from both sides...


I was not aware that stating a fact constituted being closed-minded. And since when did ad hominem attacks become an adequate substitute for debate and discussion?
7.21.2005 8:57pm
Adam (www):
Jeremy, if that's the case, then you should have no problem telling us what Roberts' judicial philosophy is, with cites to the 2001 and 2003 record. I've read it, and he says nothing which could not have been said by any of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court.

It's easy to say how you approach precedent as a circuit court judge. How will he on the Supreme Court?
7.21.2005 9:07pm
David Berke:
Jeremy, I must disagree with you on logical grounds.
You said: "Hearings on Republican judicial nominees are nothing but show trials where liberal Judiciary Committee members pander to their base and smear the nominee," and described that as a "fact."

These are not facts, they are opinions. There is no objective way of demonstrating that the hearings are "show trials" or that liberals are "pandering" to their base, or engaged in a "smear" campaign against the candidates. These are no more than labels you are applying to describe a factual scenario you are unhappy with. Others would describe the scenario differently, and no amount of inflammatory rhetoric will make your description any more of a fact than theirs.

As a cynic who does not like political parties, I see the attack by the Left on Bush's candidates as not meaningfully different from what has gone before. Equally bad, equally understandable, equally predictable.
7.21.2005 9:48pm