Sunday, July 24, 2005


My view of John Roberts

Until he does something dastardly after he's confirmed to the Supreme Court, I'll probably not write another word about John Roberts. For one thing, I don't like to get excited over the inevitable, be it welcome or unwelcome, and John Roberts' installation on the Supreme Court is just slightly less inevitable than the next appearance of Halley's comet. The only thing I can imagine that would sidetrack his nomination would be to moon the Senators during the hearings, and even then it would depend upon what the mooning revealed.

Another reason for not covering the topic is its ubiquity. I figured that sooner or later someone would get around to expressing my opinion anyway. And, sure enough, someone has. Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal has it about right when it comes to Roberts and Roe v. Wade

The Republicans' ideal Supreme Court nominee is someone who might overturn Roe v. Wade, but won't. That makes President Bush's [Karl Rove's] choice of John G. Roberts pure genius.

If defenders of abortion rights condemn the pick, so much the better. Social conservatives will think they won. And when a court ruling later proves they haven't, Republican leaders can comfort them. So far, all is according to plan.

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision enshrining a federal right to abortion. If Roe went down, two bad things would happen to Republicans.

One is that it would arouse America's pro-choice majority. Religious conservatives say they put Bush in the White House, but actually, so did a significant bloc of pro-choice women. We speak of the "security moms" who in 2004 cared more about terrorism than about abortion.

The other problem in overturning Roe is that it would send the abortion issue down to the state level. Republicans don't want angry pro-choice voters rushing to the polls in 50 states. They should recall their clever move last year to put a gay-marriage ban on the Ohio ballot. It was meaningless but did draw more conservatives to the polls, who also voted for Bush. The trick works for Democrats, too.

On abortion rights, Rove is playing realpolitik as usual.

What Harrop does not touch upon is the real reason Roberts was selected. For that we need to consult with Reagan economic advisor Lawrence Kudlow—

Might John G. Roberts Jr. be the first supply-sider to sit on the Supreme Court? Well, not exactly, but the thought is not as far fetched as some might initially think.

C. Boyden Gray, the key organizer of a business coalition that weighed in on the White House nominating process, told me Roberts believes that “government intrusion should be limited.” In other words, in the economic area, Roberts is “likely to take the view that government should get out of the way and not pick the winners and losers; that government should work to level the playing field and trust markets to get the job done.”

Gray, who is also a former lawyer for George H. W. Bush, created an infrastructure ... with a particular view toward representing business in judicial choices. “Judicial appointments are not all about social issues,” he says, “nor should they be.” He’s right. Believe it or not, roughly 40 percent of Supreme Court cases are now related to business and the economy.

Gray’s Committee for Justice includes Stan Anderson, the legal advisor to the Chamber of Commerce, John Engler, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Frank Keating, president of the American Council of Life Insurers, and Connie Mack, the former Senator and pro-growth advocate. This is the first time in anyone’s memory that business has entered the judicial fray, and Judge Roberts was their first choice.

And that, in a nutshell, is what this nomination is all about.

Roberts brings us a little closer to the robber-baron capitalism of the 19th century. But don't expect the Democrats to oppose him on those grounds. They're more in league with said plutocrats than ever. For the Democrats, the "threat" to Roe v. Wade is a great fund-raising tool on the one hand and a handy diversion from the real issues this nominee presents on the other.

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