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Remembering Obama's Opposition to Roberts

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The Wall Street Journal helpfully reprints, without direct comment, Barack Obama’s written justification for voting against John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

After reading Obama’s justification, I’m pretty sure anyone opposing Sonia Sotomayor could simply cut-and-paste the argument, make a few slight changes and call it a day. Why? Because Obama’s entire written statement is just an elaborate way to say “I’m voting against him because I disagree with his politics.” And if political incongruity is a justifiable reason to oppose an otherwise highly qualified candidate, then Obama can’t rightly expect any Republicans to vote for Sotomayor.

In the justification, Obama says Roberts too often sided with the powerful over the weak. But his examples are nothing more than a check-list of liberal political beliefs (affirmative action, abortion, strong centralized government). Couldn’t any conservative justify his or her opposition to Sotomayor by saying she too often sides with special interests over the general interest and then list the exact same policy points, albeit with the implication that conservative are on the proper side of them?

That’s the danger of making political congruity the key factor in voting for or against a judge. It renders all other qualifications moot. If Obama can praise Roberts experience, temperament, intellectual rigor and statements in front of the Senate and yet still oppose the man, then the confirmation process is just a tedious lead-up to a party-line vote.

I guess Obama’s lucky his party has the numbers to win such a vote. If the Republicans controlled the Senate and were to apply Obama’s own logic, there would not be a single compelling reason they should vote for Sotomayor.