Sunday, September 18, 2005

John Roberts: Yes or No

There are three considerations in this debate that I find worthy of contemplation. The first is the obvious intellect that Roberts possesses. (Read David Broder's praises of Roberts here.) On this facet, I'm entirely for supporting Roberts. In fact, based on his comments to the limited questions he answered, Roberts doesn't seem to be that bad--if you believe what he's saying.

I previously mocked Roberts' refusal to answer questions, which I believe is a glaring problem. (E.J. Dionne elaborates on this here.) No one expected Roberts to answer every question, but his sidestepping got a little irksome. I think this aspect belies the bigger problem that Dionne picks up on. We've seen in the past how squelching opposing views and castigating criticism of presidential policy has gotten us into trouble. Time and time again, the administration and GOP congress rush us into making decisions without even the slightest hint of caring whether we have complete information. This could change depending on Roberts' candidness in answering the written questions from Democratic Senators. He could definitely convince me to support his candidacy by being more forthcoming, even if I disagree with some of his answers.

The third thing that I have thought a lot about is his stance on so-called "states rights". The most compelling statement throughout the hearings, for me, was that of John Lewis. The euphemistic interpretation of states rights is both sobering and alarming. The voting rights act will soon be debated. Georgia is trying to make it harder for the poor (read African-American) to vote. As we procede into the 21st century, the last thing I want for this country is to recede back to the 18th century. This is a fundamental principle I believe in that John Roberts has not shown me that he values.

In the wake of Katrina, we are going to have to find a way to handle the thousands of displaced Americans. I want to be part of a nation that looks out for the vulnerable, not a cold and callous individually isolated society. If Roberts gave me even the slightest hint that this was important, I'd be inclined to vote yes despite my misgivings about everything else he appears to espouse.

On the other hand, that Roberts had to come off as a raging liberal during the hearings demonstrates that the extreme right is not as powerful as they claim. Roberts has had to distance himself from extreme right positions. It's only a matter of time before the conservative coalition falls apart.


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At any rate, I feel that all judges -- if they are qualified enough -- should be nominated. That being said, they also cannot go willy-nilly on the Courts and turn over well-set precedent.

At September 19, 2005 9:53 AM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

I generally agree that it's hard to justify opposing presidential appointments. But Senators should be free to vote their conscience. I don't think I could live with myself if I voted for Roberts given current information. As I mentioned already, that could change depending on his answers to the written questions.


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