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July 21, 2005
Nothing On Roberts? Go For The Wife

The Los Angeles Times must have taken its coverage about the lack of controversy attached to SCOTUS nominee John Roberts to heart. Instead of reporting further on Roberts, the LAT decided to go after his wife's pro-life beliefs instead:

While Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s views on abortion triggered intense debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, there is no mistaking where his wife stands: Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer, is ardently against abortion.

A Roman Catholic like her husband, Jane Roberts has been deeply involved in the antiabortion movement. She provides her name, money and professional advice to a small Washington organization Feminists for Life of America that offers counseling and educational programs. The group has filed legal briefs before the high court challenging the constitutionality of abortion.

A spouse's views normally are not considered relevant in weighing someone's job suitability. But abortion is likely to figure prominently in the Senate debate over John Roberts' nomination. And with his position on the issue unclear, abortion rights supporters expressed concern Wednesday that his wife's views might suggest he also embraced efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

"It's unclear how all this will affect her husband," said Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman with the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy group. "It's possible that he would have a different view than her. It's just that in the absence of information about this guy, people are looking at her and trying to read the tea leaves."

I expected this, but nevertheless it's pretty appalling. Take a look at the language used in these paragraphs. It's unclear how this will affect her husband. It's possible that he will think for himself, rather than give in to his wife and fail to rule in an independent manner. Perhaps she won't put her hand up his back and operate him as a hand puppet. And let's not forget to mention her religious affiliation, and his, to complete the picture.

Well, Roberts has sat on the bench for two years and practiced law for twenty-five more. Why not just check his record? And does the Los Angeles Times plan on highlighting the religious affiliation of all executive nominations, or are Roman Catholics the only people blessed with this kind of scrutiny? Unless Catholics have become ineligible for public service, all this does is to underscore a belief that Catholics cannot act as independent jurists.

If Roberts decided to highlight his wife's career as a reason to confirm him, then I would understand why Jane Roberts and her beliefs would get scrutinized. Hillary Clinton came in for similar criticism, but her husband hailed them as a team, with the famous "two for the price of one" slogan that turned out to haunt them as her more radical views became public. However, nothing points to Roberts or the White House making Jane Roberts an argument for his confirmation, and the fact that she has her own political viewpoint doesn't make it germane to his confirmation.

The Los Angeles Times should find this kind of attack piece embarrassing. Unfortunately, it won't.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 21, 2005 12:39 PM

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