Tags: The | Ingenuity | the | Roberts | Nomination

The Ingenuity of the Roberts Nomination

Wednesday, 17 August 2005 12:00 AM

Let's face it: You couldn't get a justice from central casting who is more spick-and-span than John Roberts. He looks like the Boy Justice. He talks like the very smart Boy Justice. And he has acted like a Boy Scout, by all reports.

No one has found anything. We can say that out loud. The right is more nervous than the left, if truth be told – what they fear is not a confirmation fight, but a moderate.

They really needn't worry. While it's true that people change their minds on the high court, they usually aren't people who have spent their lifetimes thinking about law. Participating in a moot court is a fun way for the cleverest lawyers (which Judge Roberts surely is) to show off, as well as help. As a consummate professional, John Roberts may have felt it to be his obligation, particularly given his personal views and his history, to participate vigorously in the moot and thereby underscore that professionalism.

So there is a nick-nick, every day, and an almost identical picture of the justice-to-be with another senator, as he continues to make his rounds and build support.

But if the conclusion is looking more and more foregone, the process remains important in two respects.

First of all, it will be theater – even if the votes are in. And the theater will portray the two parties as they try to place themselves along the values-moral-culture agenda that played so prominently, according to exit polls, in the last election.

There will certainly be dancing on abortion, not only as Republicans seek to play to the right, but also as Democrats figure out whether they want to be seen as pushing what will be called a "litmus test" on abortion. There will also be background music from the war on terrorism and the issues of treatment of prisoners.

Second, this is just the warm-up. You get the good cop first; this is the nice guy. However you treat the nice guy, whatever standards you apply to the nice guy, whatever breaks you give him are going to be demanded by the you-know-what who is coming next as chief justice.

George W. Bush is not going to pick a wimp for chief justice. There won't be any questions at that point about ideology.

He won't be as nice. He won't be easy. He won't alarm conservatives by helping out liberals with moot court arguments. A lot of people who will vote for John Roberts won't want to vote for him. But it's tricky, since on paper, they'll look a lot alike – and it's particularly tricky because you have to figure it out well enough to explain why you're voting yes now, and may not later ...

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Let's face it: You couldn't get a justice from central casting who is more spick-and-span than John Roberts. He looks like the Boy Justice. He talks like the very smart Boy Justice. And he has acted like a Boy Scout, by all reports. No one has found anything. We can say...
The,Ingenuity,the,Roberts,Nomination
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2005-00-17
Wednesday, 17 August 2005 12:00 AM
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