Blogs > Liberty and Power > Roberts

Jul 25, 2005 11:29 am


Back in '91 when Clarence Thomas told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he'd never discussed Roe v. Wade with anybody, it was pretty clear he was dissembling. With John Roberts, you could almost believe that it's true. According to yesterday's Washington Post, even folks who know him quite well have no idea what he thinks.

"You know, I must have had a thousand lunches with John, and I can't think of a single thing he's said that would specify his politics," says Prettyman, a World War II veteran who once served as an aide to Robert F. Kennedy."We were all under the impression that he's a conservative, but he always talked generalities. He's not the type to lay it all out."

Great grades, stellar resume, nice posture, nice smile, no doubt a firm handshake. But where he stands on anything is anyone's guess. What we've got here is a guy who, apparently, was genetically engineered and grown in a vat for the sole purpose of getting past the Senate Judiciary Committee. I think it was P.J. O'Rourke who wrote that every American with any wit or spunk has done something to keep himself from becoming president. So too with the Supremes, I guess.

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Brian Radzinsky - 7/25/2005

The real question that comes out this is what exactly the standards should be for confirming judges when they openly adhere to the beliefs of a group that binds them to certain actions. The answer of "I don't have any moral inclinations towards Roe v. Wade one way or the other *but I'll uphold the law as a judge*" is hokum. As a judge he has the power, should that come up for review to rule one way or the other. And, knowing human nature, it's silly to contend that his personal feelings won't affect the judgment.

So really we have to see the extent to which his beliefs prevent him from upholding the rule of law, federalism, separation of powers, &c. However, in an environment on the Hill that wants to see things as liberal or conservative batteries of litmus tests, I don't see how easy that can be at all.

Granted I've just undergone some serious dental work and teeth pulling so I'm operating under the veil of Vicodin. Accordingly I apologize in case this comment makes little to no sense at all.

John Arthur Shaffer - 7/25/2005

Doesn't seem like many have picked up on this but certainly a strange answer by Roberts. Roberts would be sitting a lot of cases out if this is his real answer.:

"The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself."

David Timothy Beito - 7/25/2005

Do you have to ask?

Mark Brady - 7/25/2005

"Back in '91 when Clarence Thomas told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he'd never discussed Roe v. Wade with anybody, it was pretty clear he was dissembling."

Dissembling or lying?

David Timothy Beito - 7/25/2005

He seems like an awfully smart guy and very nice but this strikes me as awfully suspicious. Genetically engineered or, perhaps, brilliantly calculating.