All that Glitters Is Not Gold, or: One Case Against the Dread Pirate Roberts for Chief Justice - And May Other Cases Be Made
Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts sure seems like a nice guy. He has a suitably handsome wife, and two well-scrubbed children. Man what an All-American portrait they paint. Even unapologetic liberals like myself had a hard time not rooting for the guy. His high-school teachers have come forth to hail him as the greatest intellectual his prep school have ever seen. Harvard alum after Harvard alum after Harvard alum has come forward to say that he was quiet, studious, well-scrubbed, All American, and very, very, very nice. Yes, I even breathed a sigh of relief. Hey, he's not as bad a Edith Brown Clement, right?
But no more. I shook the cob-webs off, and I hope you will do the same.
The media have been faithful in their depictions of a bright, amiable, enigmatic man. Is he really conservative, or does he advocate skillfully for positions that he does not hold? It's all so difficult to figure out.
Ann Coulter, that screaming shrew with limited access to reason and logic, made a masterful play in criticizing the administration for not selecting a card-carrying member of the conservative party. At first, it made me think that maybe Bush selected a moderate because, as so many papers were quick to suggest - he is politically weak right now and could not (a) force a very conservative nominee through the Senate, or (b) afford to lose a nomination battle. But what Ann was doing, me now thinks, was contributing to the hype: Roberts is not so bad, he's not Edith Brown Clement bad, and any Democrat who refused this guy (when he has a young handsome family to support) is just down right unreasonable. Wow that's slick. I mean, even I almost bought it, and I'm practically a jenious.
It's like being told that Barry Bonds is going to hit you in the head, full force, with an aluminum bat, but then only having Barbara Bush laugh in your face because you're poor and homeless and you don't know where all your loved ones are and you might have e. coli or cholera, and you're very, very thirsty...so thirsty and naked and alone and cold. So cold. So very cold.
It's amazing how something bad doesn't seem all that bad when something worse is expected. It's all about setting low expectations, and no one has set lower expectations than your man in Crawford and Washington: "Dubya." It's like a game of how low can we go where the answer is always "lower than that...lower still...yep, even lower..."
So is Roberts really a conservative, or is he some level-headed man of reason?
[Notice my either/or there? Tee hee...]
For me, the answer is: he is really conservative. What I mean by that is: (a) he really is conservative, and (b) he is really (read "very") conservative.
I keep wondering why the White House won't release a lot of his writings - especially his work as deputy under then Solicitor General Ken Starr. If all they did was establish the nominee as intelligent and wise, they would have been all over the Wall Street Journal by now. There's something in there they don't want us to know. Under another President, I might buy the claim of attorney-client privelege, or the claim of not wanting to set a bad precendent, but this President is so consistent in his willingness to bend or break the truth, that he is no longer worthy of trust. He's hiding something.
But the one thing we know about Supreme Court nominees, is that they can disappoint their selectors. Lots of libs were worried about Souter, but he is one of the Court's staunchest protectors of the bill of rights. JFK nominated Byron White, and, well, "Whizzer" wasn't exactly the most liberal fellow, now was he? I'm sure Reagan expected more from Justice O'Connor than he received. So, it is possible that Roberts would go on to disappoint. But who among us would count on it? Not I.
But this one thing alone makes Roberts unfit to be the Chief Justice. Ready?
On April 1st, Attorney General (and fool) Alberto Gonzales interviewed Roberts as a potential SC nominee.
Later that month, the AG filed an appeal in the Ahmed Hamdan case - regarding the administration's challenge of the Geneva conventions and its effort to torture and detain with impunity at Guantanamo.
In May, Gonzales, this time with Karl Rove, Dick "go f--- yourself" Cheney and other top administration officials again interviewed Roberts for a potential SC slot.
While these interviews were taking place, Roberts was presiding over the Hamdan case.
[Read that previous line again, please.]
Roberts and two other judges ruled in favor of the administration in Hamdan.
[I'll pause while you digest your surprise.]
Four days later, guess who was selected to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court?
[I'm sorry to keep springing stuff on you like this. Truly.]
Well now, there's the appearance of impropriety, and then there's out and out impropriety.
Does anyone reading this - anyone - believe that Roberts would have been the nominee if he ruled the other way in Hamdan? Anyone?
Does anyone reading this think that John Roberts should NOT have recused himself from the Hamdan case?
Does anyone reading this think that Roberts would have been the nominee if he would have recused himself?
Does anyone think that politics is not irretrievably vulgar?
Does anyone - especially in the "justice for hire" era of Antonin Scalia - does anyone believe that the Court is squeaky clean?
What bugs me about this (and about the American people) is that this blatant conflict of interest is hardly a pubic hair on a can of Coke. I can't imagine how Democrats will get the average citizen to follow the bouncing ball here. Even if you boil it down to a sentence - like "Roberts supported the administration in a filthy case he presided over, and in return, the administration supported his dirty bid to serve on the court," most will say "who is Roberts?" Or, but he's a nice guy, or quid pro quo. Brilliant. Good show.
Roberts is a hack. And because he's already in the pocket, and because justice is supposed to be blind and neutral and disinterested and everything. Love of justice, love of jurisprudence, and love of democracy and fairness and all that hooey should compel us to encourage your President to select someone else. But not Edith.
The dread pirate Roberts is filthy, and if I were the American people, I wouldn't touch him. All we need is another Justice hunting with litigants and thumbing his nose about it.
Vote "yes" to a clean Court, vote "no" to dirty Roberts.