Monday, July 25, 2005

You heard it here first...

Before there was any nomination for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, I was writing about the Federalist Society, and how it was a core piece of the conservative jurisprudential puzzle. Now, it turns out that this issue has become some question in the nomination of Judge Roberts.

CNN has this story today entitled, Roberts faces questions, in which it appears that (as I noted in this post) the Washington Post and the White House have stated that Roberts has no recollection of membership in the conservative legal organization, his name appeared on a Society leadership directory as part of a steering committee.

The question of Roberts' membership in the society -- an influential organization of conservative lawyers and judges formed in the early 1980s to combat what its members said was growing liberalism on the bench -- emerged as a vexing issue at the start of another week of meetings for President Bush's nominee on Capitol Hill.

Clearly, membership (or non-membership) in the Federalist Society should not be a factor in Roberts' nomination confirmation. To me, the fact that such a membership (or non-membership) has garnered so much attention in the past week is a testament to the increasing power and influence of the Society.

In other news, the Houston Chronicle reports today - Bush pick gives Democrats tough choice. The article notes that political considerations will present an interesting counter to progressive interest groups' pressure on Democratic Senators to fight the Roberts nomination.

After Supreme Court nominee John Roberts completed a series of meetings on Capitol Hill last week, at least one Democratic senator was ready to pronounce him a "wise choice."

That was Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who this year helped broker a deal with Republicans that ended a stalemate over judicial nominations and who is up for re-election next year in a state that President Bush has won comfortably twice.

The article also refers to the pressures on potential '08 contenders for the Democratic nomination - in addition to those in possible re-election fights.
Buchanan said Democratic senators thought to have presidential aspirations — such as Hillary Clinton of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Joseph Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana — have to strike a delicate balance. ...

Voting for Roberts could also carry risk. In early Democratic primary or caucus states, such as Iowa, liberal activists carry a disproportionate weight.

Mann predicted Clinton and Biden would position themselves with moderates and vote for Roberts, while Kerry and Bayh would court liberal activists by voting against him.

Another category of Democratic senators — those in states that voted for Bush and who are up for re-election next year, such as Nebraska's Nelson — must be aware of how Roberts is being received at home.

At this point, it's my opinion that any progressive special interest groups would be wasting political capital to oppose the Roberts nomination. It is a sort of a Catch-22 I suppose - these groups have spent so much time and energy raising money from their supporters in order to wage a nomination battle, how can they now lay down without a fight. On the other hand, it's a fight they can't win, so fighting it is an expenditure of funds and political capital that will deplete these organizations, and make them less credible during any future nominations...especially if a turly extreme nomination is forwarded. Obviously, it is not an easy decision. It appears to me that the likelihood of the derailment of the Judge Roberts nomination is very small (unless other information comes to light), and in that sense, any large-scale opposition is wasted.

As I have stated in many other arenas - George W. Bush won the election, and the Republican's control the Senate. To the victor goes the spoils...this scenario was unquestionably on the table in November of 2004, and American chose Bush. A qualified, non-extremist nominee - regardless of if he matches one's opinions, beliefs, or ideologies - should have been expected to be a very conservative jurist. That is the clear result. Judge John Roberts is highly skilled, highly respected, and (in my opinion) qualified. Regardless of whether I agree with him on the interpretation of Constitutional law, at this point (unless other information is revealed) his nomination should not be blocked.

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