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July 20, 2005
Joyfulness On Roberts Nomination Not Universal On The Right

After the initial glow of George Bush's announcement of John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, rumblings have surfaced on the right about his lack of a track record defending conservatism. The loudest of these rumblings comes from the ever-outspoken and highly entertaining Ann Coulter, who takes her accustomed no-holds-barred approach to venting her dissatisfaction:

So all we know about him for sure is that he can't dance and he probably doesn't know who Jay-Z is. Other than that, he is a blank slate. Tabula rasa. Big zippo. Nada. Oh, yeah...we also know he's argued cases before the supreme court. big deal; so has Larry Flynt's attorney.

But unfortunately, other than that that, we dont know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever. ...

It means absolutely nothing that NARAL and Planned Parenthood attack him: They also attacked Sandra Day OConnor, Anthony Kennedy and David Hackett Souter.

The only way a supreme court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial birth one.

It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases ...

Maybe Roberts will contravene the sordid history of stealth nominees and be the Scalia or Thomas Bush promised us when he was asking for our votes. Or maybe he wont. The Supreme Court shouldn't be a game of Russian roulette.

I don't despair at Coulter's well-written and humorous rant (read the whole essay), because I believe it serves a good purpose. She's correct about Roberts and his quiet record. Randy Barnett makes a similar point at the Volokh Conspiracy in much greater detail. (H/T: Tom Holsinger) Roberts does not bring much in terms of a solid track record of speeches and opinions that distinguish him as a conservative in the mold of a Scalia or a Thomas. The high points of his record have more to do with the success he had at school, his high-profile assignments in the Reagan and Bush administrations, the extensive SCOTUS experience he has accumulated, and a reputation among his peers for a solid, conservative outlook.

Does he come with guarantees? No. Coulter has that much right.

However, that is also his strength. He can withstand a political dogfight because he doesn't hand his opponents any weapons. They will drag him through the mud anyway, as their remarks have already begun to indicate. Democratic obstructionism will create a furor that will dwarf what we've already seen in the electorate last year, when it gave the GOP another four seats in the Senate. Another Thomas-style smear job or Bolton-style filibuster will guarantee that the Democrats lose even more ground in 2006, leaving the field wide open for Bush to nominate more established conservatives in his final session of Congress.

Carol Platt Liebau, in the meantime, doesn't want Ann to create discord:

I have always enjoyed hearing from and reading Ann Coulter. She is smart, she's beautiful, and she is certainly funny.

But she is making a big, gigantic, horrendous mistake in attacking John Roberts for being insufficiently conservative. And she should stop it -- now. ...

A right wing attack on Roberts can do nothing but marginalize conservatives and create trouble for themselves, for the Bush Administration, for the conservative cause generally, and for a good and decent man. I do hope Ann Coulter will think twice, and stop the attack. There are so many better uses for her prodigious talents.

I also agree with Carol's post, especially her defense of Roberts on a point-by-point basis. But I think that Ann's public broadside serves the President as well. It will be hard for the Democrats to paint Roberts as an extremist while Ann chides him for his potential to transform into a second coming of Souter. Ann also reminds the base that it needs to keep its voice heard by the GOP, which has sometimes acted as if a majority has no relevance in democracies. Ann allows center-right essayists like Carol to stay in shape for this battle, and opens an opportunity for people with extraordinary credibility like Hugh Hewitt to confirm through his personal experience that Roberts indeed meets our needs and desires as a SCOTUS justice.

Dissent can sometimes strengthen us for what we face. I don't fear Ann Coulter's lack of endorsement for John Roberts, and neither should anyone else.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin rounds up other reactions to Ann Coulter.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 20, 2005 12:55 PM

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