Technology with attitude

Chief Justice Roberts?

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Looks like Justin has already beat me to this one. Here is another post on the subject anyway…

The President has wasted no time in nominating John Roberts for Chief Justice.

Mr. Bush announced the switch less than 36 hours after Chief Justice Rehnquist’s death and a day before the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to open hearings on Judge Roberts’s nomination to replace Justice O’Connor.

What about the other court seat?

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of personnel issues, said . . . Mr. Bush was considering candidates “from all walks of life,” signaling that the administration was sensitive to the pressure to nominate a woman or a member of a minority to replace Justice O’Connor.

How exactly does that ‘signal that the administration is sensitive to pressure to nominate a woman or a member of a minority?’ Wouldn’t considering candidates “from all walks of life,” mean he is considering non-judges? I mean, doesn’t the phrase ‘walk of life’ refer to one’s profession rather than their sex or race?

Putting that bit of hair-splitting aside, what of the Robert’s confirmation hearings coming up this week?

Senate Democrats signaled that they would press the White House again to release more documents that might shed light on his thinking about divisive issues likely to come before the court. They have been seeking, unsuccessfully, the release of documents from the four years he spent as principal deputy solicitor general under the first President Bush, when he helped argue the government’s position on civil rights issues and other topics of intense interest to liberal groups.

A CBS News poll released Monday found that 57 percent of Americans believed that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee’s positions on the issues as well as his or her legal qualifications. That was up from 46 percent last month.

One’s position on a particular issue alone should not be the basis of whether one is confirmed. (No “litmus test.”) However, if the nature of one’s convictions is such as to interfere with their ability to be objective, then there is a problem.

There will, of course, be the question about Democrats being obstructionist, but couldn’t the White House Documents potentially shed some light on the nature of Robert’s convictions?

Presidential documents are public property which after twelve years, are to be open to the public. Except Bush issued an executive order back in 2001 that says an “incumbent president may assert any constitutionally based privilege,” even after the twelve years, to block the release of files. Including “records that reflect . . . legal advice or legal work.”

Hmmm. The conspiracy theorist inside me is shouting ‘foul’ at how convenient this is in the case of the Roberts papers. Last month, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wondered aloud about the same thing.

Putting that partisan snakepit aside, what does Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York think of all of this?

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said there were signs that Mr. Bush was pulling his ideological punches because of political weakness.

“If he had been in a stronger position, he would have nominated Scalia as chief justice,” Mr. Schumer said. “The president’s general view on court nominees has been to make sure the hard right is happy. His weakened position removes him from that a little bit. We’ll see how much.”

What to make of that? I don’t know, so putting that question for the ages aside, what of the likely shortage of Supreme Court Justices come the start of the next term? Eight is perfect for a pick-up game of four on four, but the Supreme Court requires a ninth.

…O’Connor repeated to the president that her retirement would become effective when a successor was confirmed . . . indicating her willingness to start the new term on the bench.

On Sunday, Justice O’Connor said that not having a successor in place by Oct. 3 would present her with a “surprising dilemma.”

It is not clear whether she will choose to hear any cases during the opening weeks of the term, since she would most likely have departed by the time they were decided…

I’d be willing to start the new term too, if I didn’t have to hear any cases. Sounds like the easiest job ever. I’d just hope they mean ‘departed from the court’ and not dear departed.

New York Times: President Names Roberts as Choice for Chief Justice