John Roberts the New Chief Justice


Rehnquist has been succeeded. Time will tell if he helps to undo Roe v. Wade and Americans’ rights to privacy. My gut instinct suggest that he will prove to be a fairer and more decent judge than most progressives think.
But that choice was what Democrats lost in the last election. While John Kerry was off debating who was and wasn’t a hero in yesteryear’s wars, he should have been saying: “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.”
The real battle is the next one. And very possibly the one after that — as Bush may get two more chances to plant his presidential DNA in the Supreme Court.
But for now — Roberts is far better than Scalia or Thomas would have been as Chief. In my book, this is a minor victory for some of those who have helped chasten the White House via the stem cell battle, the Bolton Battle, and the battle over social security privatization.
But the real evidence will be in how reasonable or outrageous Bush’s next Supreme Court appointment will be. Stay tuned.
On newly annointed Chief Justice John Roberts, Senator Jay Rockefeller just forwarded this statement to TWN, and I think it is a pretty good assessment of most Dems who supported Roberts:

In Judge Roberts, the nation is presented with a nominee who possesses an extraordinary intellect, a modest temperament and a steady hand. I see in him the will and the ability to seek common ground among the justices of the court on important national issues. And I believe he possesses sufficient humility, as a man and as a judge, to be mindful of the powerful impact of his actions on the lives of average Americans.
Four days of intensive hearings allowed all of us, and much of America, to come to know something of John Roberts — and to observe and assess what we don’t know. None of us can fully fathom the matters that will be determined, and the people who will be affected, by a judge with lifetime tenure on the highest court of the land. John Roberts today very likely becomes the Chief Justice of a generation.
It is not surprising that this President would select a nominee with whom I disagree on some important issues, particularly as articulated in his early policy work. But it is reassuring, and ultimately determinative, that the President has selected a nominee who asserts with conviction, supported by the record, that he is not an ideologue — that he takes precedent as established law and people and cases as they come before him. I take him at his word, and trust that in interpreting and applying the law, he will be his own man.
Yet once a nominee’s high credentials and unimpeachable integrity have been established, the selection of a Supreme Court justice further demands of us a leap of faith. And it is in that leap of faith that we must attempt to know more: Who is he as a person? What is his understanding of the human condition? Does he take seriously our fundamental responsibility to people, as well as to legal concepts?

Many of my readers don’t want to abide by my giving the White House a pass on Roberts — but I think we won something in getting him over some of the more unacceptable choices that Bush might have tried to shove down the nation’s throat.
But in this choice, the White House divided Dems. Dems in turn need to begin pushing issues — like pushing a credible 2-state solution between Israel and Palestine — that divide Republicans.
— Steve Clemons