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Saturday, September 17, 2005

How good was Judge John Roberts this week?

He was so good that:

  • Hundreds of liberal law professors around the country are thinking to themselves: "Damn, if that conservative sumbitch had been in one of my classes, I'd have been forced to give his white male butt an 'A+' anyway. Damn!"

  • Millions of hard-left Democrats are thinking to themselves: "Damn, I never believed that lucky Chimpy McBus**tler could find somebody that good. He gets all the big breaks — first 9/11, now this. Thank goodness there's probably not another one out there who'll be that good to put in the next spot. Surely we can get some traction next time!"

To which I have a two-syllable reaction: "Tee-hee."

Posted by Beldar at 12:17 AM in Law (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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» Roberts Parries Queries on Roe and End of Life from Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator

Tracked on Sep 17, 2005 12:43:46 AM


(1) nk made the following comment | Sep 17, 2005 8:18:59 AM | Permalink

He was so good that he gave me an inferiority complex. Mindful of your earlier post relating him to the lawyers toiling day to day in the trenches, I see him as one of the movers and shakers of law, for good and ill. I wonder if his appointment will repress his talents and influence on the development of the law, from this perspective: Would we have had Brown v. Board of Education if Thurgood Marshall had been a judge somewhere and not rsking his life at the hands of the KKK to build his case? Or even the result we got in Bush v. Gore without Ted Olson? Since at least the time of Cicero people of talent, energy and ability have been brought into the ruling institutions because otherwise they would be too dangerous if left outside of them. I consider John Roberts that good.

(2) Xrlq made the following comment | Sep 17, 2005 12:51:50 PM | Permalink

Some conservatives, myself included, are worried that he may not be a good guy on the commerce clause. I'm also nervous about his endorsement of the Griswold precedent which, while far more innocuous than Roe, is equally lawless.

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 17, 2005 1:18:11 PM | Permalink

Xrlq, I know the testimony that made you nervous, and I understand why it did. Obviously, his refusal to give hints, previews, predictions, or forecasts — much less commitments — is a double-edged sword. And I doubt that Chief Justice Roberts' votes will be as predictable as, say, those of Justice Stevens or Justice Thomas. CJ Rehnquist sometimes surprised me, and even Justice Scalia does so semi-regularly. But in the big picture, I'm not particularly worried about the issues you mentioned, nor others that are somewhat higher on my priority list, for two reasons.

First: I know it's in keeping with his overall style and habits, but Judge Roberts was an especially careful and precise witness in his testimony about, say, Griswold. In his style of testifying, he was the polar opposite of Judge Bork. I don't expect him to ever vote to overrule Griswold's actual holding on state laws forbidding sale of contraceptives to married persons. But nothing he said would be inconsistent with him joining in, or writing, a statement like Justice Thomas' in Lawrence v. Texas to the effect that there is no general right to privacy in the Constitution, Griswold notwithstanding. When and if that happens, the left will scream that he was duplicitous in his confirmation hearings. Well, maybe as to tone — although I genuinely think even that would be the result of people hearing the tone they wanted to hear — but certainly not as to his actual words. I genuinely believe that in his Senate testimony, he has very effectively reserved his independence on every significant issue that's likely to come before the Court in the foreseeable future.

Second, and in conjunction: You can't predict what he's going to do in any given future case from what he said in the confirmation hearing — I don't think anyone can, at least not with any confidence — but you quite possibly can predict what he's likely to do in many types of cases from what he's said privately in the past. Again, his personality type is not that of a blabber or a hothead; I think he's by nature the kind of guy who edits himself when he's talking in his sleep. But I put a huge amount of trust in the judgments of those in the Reagan and Bush-41 Administrations who've spent years observing Roberts in his private, privileged capacity as a counselor to those Administrations. For that matter, I put a significant amount of trust in the judgment of the late Chief Justice Rehnquist: You watch how a young lawyer reacts to eight or twelve thousand certiorari applications that he's screening over the course of a year, and you get a pretty fair insight into how he thinks, what makes him tick, and what his instincts are. (I'm quite certain, for example, that the judge for whom I clerked twenty-five years ago could still read me like a book, much moreso than I could her.)

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