Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Reid's misjudgment to oppose Roberts...

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It appears that Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic Leader, will come out against the confirmation of John Roberts on Wednesday. The following quote is from his prepared remarks available in full on The Raw Story:

"The question is close, and the arguments against him do not warrant extraordinary procedural tactics to block the nomination. Nonetheless, I intend to cast my vote against this nominee when the Senate debates the matter next week.”

Reid cites a collection of memos from John Roberts' years in service to the Reagan Administration in which he was less than enthusiastic about the advancement of Affirmative Action and "derided" the concept of comparable worth between women and men in the workplace.

To me this is absolutely absurd. Roberts' position on equal rights wasn't compromised by these statements, and his rebuttal to Senator Feinstein in committee when she raised the subject of these memo's was comprehensive. He passionately expressed his dedication to equal rights, explained the underlying nuances of the issue as it related to his comments on comparable worth, and backed it all up with the fact that he'd married a working woman, grown up with three sisters who were working women, and would settle for nothing less than an outstanding career for his own daughter. Now maybe there is more beneath the surface, but presumptuous intimations and deductions are not the basis upon which Roberts' confirmation should be refused.

Reid states in his prepared remarks:
“Nonetheless, I was prepared to look past these memos, and chalk them up to the folly of youth. I looked forward to the confirmation hearings in the expectation that Judge Roberts would repudiate those views in some fashion."

What does he need to repudiate? The Reagan Administration policy on Affirmative action? The complex questions involving the particular case he was referencing in regards to comparable worth? The fact that he said there should be less lawyers, and not less female lawyers?

I agree with Reid that the Administration should have released the documents that Roberts had written when he served in the first Bush Administration, and I absolutely agree that Roberts has been less than forthcoming in the Judiciary Committee hearings, and that this is a cause for concern. After all, there are people on both the left and right worried as a result of how difficult it is to discern what kind of Chief Justice John Roberts will be. But, lets face it... he is following a precedent that has been set by his predecessors. Yes, some kind of mechanism should be in place to identify and scrutinize the subjective manner in which any nominee interprets the law... But, ultimately this is a criticism that relates to the process and not to the nominee, whether we like it as Democrats or not.

I have expressed many concerns about Roberts: Does Roberts have the seniority, or track record in leadership positions to fulfill the role of Chief Justice. His obfuscation in response to Feinstein's JFK quote about the "absolute" separation between Church and State. But, to be perfectly honest, if these are the grounds upon which Roberts' confirmation is refused, in addition to Reid's objections, then, from this day forth, there probably isn't ANY sound basis upon which you could expect a Presidential nominee to the Supreme Court to ever be confirmed.

This is obviously a politically calculated move on the part of Congressional Democrats to send the President a message about his next nomination to the SC. Maybe Reid has received word that Bush intends to nominate a truly staunch, ideological conservative to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, and her pivotal swing vote. For me it's just a shame that when political posturing in response to Katrina has cost this Administration so dear in the opinion polls... and when, for the first time in his Presidency, George Bush is struggling to re-gather the confidence of the American people... the Democratic Leadership are sending exactly the wrong message about the type of alternative that we are offering as a party. Where the disenchanted electorate look for sincerity and integrity we are now simply perpetuating the political cynicism they have grown to despise.

I agree with the Gang of 14: George Bush's election victory earned him the right to nominate a Conservative to the Supreme Court... and only the most extreme circumstances should necessitate this type of partisan intervention. The plain truth is that nothing Harry Reid will say on Wednesday equates to circumstances that are extreme. Today's LA Times editorial impressively presents the case for Roberts' confirmation.

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Chris said...

Very risky move indeed.

I think it is inevitable that Roberts will be confirmed. Again, I have to admit that it's not that I support Roberts or his ideology, it's that there isn't much that can be done. In the end, like you say, if Dems want their people in places, win some elections.

I also refuse to believe that Roberts is as squeaky clean and a free thinker like conservatives would have everyone to believe. The guy is obviously a Bush insider, and it's probably fair to assume that Bush would not have won his Florida recount court battle without Roberts at the helm.

If any opposition towards Roberts is to come from the Dems, then it should come from leadership. If for any reason just to say that the Dems did do their job in ensuring "advice and consent" as well as demanding all available information from the White House so that an informed decision could be made on Roberts. I think Reid has made his case well.

Again, I think we all must remember that just because the president nominates someone, it doesn't mean that that person gets a free ticket to an up or down vote. There is a constitutional process that must be followed. But even under the most favorable circumstances of blocking a presidential nominee to the Supreme Court (and this isn't one), it's still almost impossible to do so.

If Clarence Thomas can be approved through the senate, anyone can.

Graham said...

Hey MJ,

I don't believe Roberts should get a free ride. This process should be made as difficult for him as possible IMO. But, when it comes to confirmation, there have to be explicit and justifiable grounds upon which to vote NO. The standard applied has to have integrity, especially if it comes from the Democratic leadership.

Refusing to confirm Roberts on the basis of these memos is going to set Democrats up for a whole wave of attacks. It is also potentially going to shift the political intiative back into the Republican's favor. I love what you said about Democrats needing to set the agenda and control the nation's political conversation... but, by doing this Republican's can now happily resort to attacking weasle Democrats, pointing out their hypocrisies... instead of continually having to defend their President.

I hope Clinton, Bayh, Biden all support Roberts and sideline Harry Reid.

I think it's a bad political move, and it's just plain wrong.

Thanks for your comment, MJ :).

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I disagree with you G as I think that a more or less symbolic protest is necessary. I also do not think he is " squeaky clean " in regard to his record and I am not at all fond of his ideology; after all it is ideology that is the base for what these judges do in the future. I think when looking at this semantically that one could see Roberts as quite regressive as far as women in the workplace and social welfare are concerned no matter how he got around it or what semantically derived opinion he ended up having in the past. His wife and sisters careers have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

I agree however that this will have little effect in regard to his confirmation and am not sure that the energy is well spent. I am torn.

You all appear to know more about the political working of things than I do but as a woman I could do without as Roberts.

Graham said...

Hey Alice :),

I don't think he's squeaky clean, and I'm definately not a fan of his ideology nor his views on individual policies. But, I feel like these things have to explicitly demonstrated, and I haven't seen a piece of evidence, nor a back and forth during the hearings which has done this. In fact nothing has even come remotely close.

I don't know what symbol we send to the American people as Democrats if we resort to partisanship, when on a fundamental level, Bush earned his right to nominate a Conservative to the Supreme Court via beating us in the 04 election. I'm hopeful that other Senators will come out in favor of confirmation...

Thanks for your comment, Alice :).

Graham said...

I just wanted to add that Senator Russ Feingold, who I've given a fair amount of stick for his policy of immediate withdrawal in Iraq, was absolutely fantastic today in the way he summized Roberts' qualities, and explained the implications of a NO vote on the basis of what has been established in the hearings.

The interesting vote to look out for me will be Evan Bayh. I seriously think that nobody else on the radar screen has the requisite qualities to beat Hillary in the primaries. I base that on his sincerity, character, and integrity. A vote against Roberts by any moderate Democratic mind is a political calculation about the next nomination the President makes to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. I want a leader of the Democratic party to transcend politics and just stand for something... just stand for what he believes in. I hope very much that Evan Bayh votes Yes.