Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Court's Out on Roberts

I think the court is still out, if you will, on Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts as Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court. It's a bit too early for anyone to have a well-formed view of what his tenure might portend for the high court, but there's no shortage of journalists scrambling about trying to fill in the gaps.

Perhaps the most reported fact about Judge Roberts is that he once wrote a brief in which he claimed that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Here's the actual quote: "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Seems damning, but appearances can be deceiving. He wrote this in his position as deputy solicitor general for the George H.W. Bush administration in 1991. In other words, he was doing his job and what he wrote may not reflect his actual views on abortion.

In 2003, Judge Roberts had this to say:
Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. It's a little more than settled. It was reaffirmed in the face of a challenge that it should be overruled in the Casey decision. Accordingly, it's the settled law of the land. There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent, as well as Casey.
If my ears did not deceive me, I believe I heard a spokesperson from a pro-choice group on the radio this morning describe Roberts with this hideously mixed metaphor: a Bork in sheep's clothing. It looks like that might be a bit hasty. As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, it's definitely an encouraging sign that Ann Coulter thinks Robert's isn't conservative enough.
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