September 23, 2005

Boston Globe: Bush Met Democrats Halfway in Nomination of Judge Roberts

Scott Leigh of the Boston Globe believes that Democrats should not follow the examples set by Ted Kennedy and John Kerry in their opposition to Judge Roberts:

HOW SHOULD Senate Democrats respond to the example Ted Kennedy and John Kerry set Wednesday in declaring their opposition to John Roberts in a one-two political punch?

By disregarding it.

Why? Well, first let's review the bidding. When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, Democrats warned President Bush not to nominate a conservative ideologue to replace her on the Supreme Court. Bush responded by putting up a well-qualified jurist with widely recognized legal skills, someone the Senate unanimously confirmed to the US Court of Appeals in 2003. To rework Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s line about FDR, John Roberts has both a first-class intellect and a first-rate temperament. Then, when Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, the president effectively lowered the ideological stakes by renominating Roberts for the chief justice's job, which means his confirmation would hardly change the court's makeup.

.... Still, their Democratic colleagues would do better to look to the example of Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which yesterday voted 13 to 5 in favor of Roberts. In his Wednesday speech, Leahy said that though the popular move for a Democrat was to oppose Roberts, he thinks that Roberts is not a conservative ideologue but rather the sort of cautious, principled, precedent-respecting conservative who merits support. The evidence suggests he's right. And with Roberts replacing the arguably more conservative Rehnquist, this is not the real donnybrook over changing the court; thus it simply doesn't make sense to wage an intense battle over a qualified nominee who is within acceptable ideological bounds.

Further, the idea that running up a strong tally against Roberts will encourage the president to send up a more moderate nominee for the next seat -- or help in the fight if Bush's next nominee is an archconservative -- is the most fanciful kind of thinking.

If Democrats wage war over a qualified, measured conservative like him, it's just as likely to strengthen Republican resolve for a knock-down-drag-out for the kind of ultraconservative the right really want. Further, if Democrats raise a hyperbolic ruckus over Roberts, how can they expect the public to take them seriously when it really matters?

No, Democrats need to dismiss the clamor of the activists and recognize the obvious: Despite their fears, on this one, George W. Bush met them halfway

I agree.
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