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August 25, 2005
Roberts Opposition Gets Desperate For Issues

As the date for the Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court draws near, the opposition to his confirmation gets stranger and stranger. Having exhausted the Reagan-era data and found nothing objectionable, Democrats have started skipping any pretense of rationality, opting instead for nothing but empty scare tactics. Ralph Neas and Chuck Schumer took center stage yesterday in the Roberts Follies to once again demonstrate how little substance either employs in their obstructionist agenda.

First, the People For the American Way (PFAW) announcement from Neas opposing Roverts got delivered as if the nation had held its breath wondering whether PFAW might support Roberts in the end. Neas' performance had me laughing while I listened to it on the radio, and I imagine it had greater comedic value live and in person. He told the gathered press that he wanted to be able to support Roberts and had waited until now to take a position on his confirmation so that PFAW could do a thorough job researching his background. That's patently false; PFAW had material opposing the Roberts nomination within hours of its announcement.

Yesterday, Neas ran through a series of generalizations about Roberts intended to extend the scare campaign the Left started with the NARAL smear campaign to which even Democrats:

"He supported the legality of radical proposals to strip the courts of jurisdiction over certain school desegregation remedies, abortion, and school prayer," the report says. "He denigrated what he referred to as the 'so-called' right to privacy, resisted attempts to fully restore the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, and worked against measures aimed at increasing gender equity."

The last trots out the Washington Post smear that Roberts opposed equal rights for women, when in fact what Roberts opposed was the long-discredited "comparable pay" scheme that would have put almost all wage decisions in control of the courts. Supporting comparable worth demonstrates that PFAW willingly tosses out two decades of widespread rejection of that failed hypothesis and aligns itself with the far Left, representing the lunatic fringe of the political movement.

Also getting a bit more lunatic are Chuck Schumer and Russ Feingold. The two Democrats yesterday chewed out Roberts for failing to recuse himself in the Hamdan case involving Guantanamo Bay detentions. They claim that Roberts should have stopped hearing any cases involving the federal government after the first hint that the Bush administration might select him as a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor:

"It is clear that you have long understood the ethical issues raised by continuing to work on a case in which a party is considering you for another position," Judiciary Committee Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said in a letter to Roberts. ...

Roberts, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated by
President Bush to the nation's highest court on July 19.

That month, Roberts sat on a three-judge panel that refused to block military tribunals for terror suspects. A lawsuit against the administration was brought by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who once was al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden's driver.

But three months earlier, in April, Roberts had begun interviewing with administration officials for a possible Supreme Court spot, according to his questionnaire submitted to the Senate.

He recently recused himself from a case involving the American Bar Association, Feingold and Schumer said, presumably because the ABA was preparing its rating of him for his Supreme Court nomination.

This issue makes no sense whatsoever. Three months earlier, O'Connor hadn't even resigned yet. In fact, her resignation came as a surprise, as even Schumer and Feingold should recall. The Bush administration spoke to Roberts in a preliminary sense, and any rational justice on the DC circuit would probably assume that such discussions were being held with numerous other candidates, including his or her colleagues on the same circuit. If such discussions created a need for recusals, the DC circuit would never hear half their cases, as that appellate court considers government positions in many of its hearings.

As for the ABA recusal, the Roberts nomination had already become official and the recusal made sense. Perhaps that explains why it confuses Schumer, Feingold, and the rest of the knee-jerk obstructionists grasping blindly for any thin excuse they can find to rationalize their hostility towards a well-qualified conservative jurist.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2005 6:14 AM

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Tracked on August 25, 2005 10:06 AM

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