Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'll Trade You Roberts For Rove

I’ll trade you an associate justice for a presidential advisor.

I suggest the Democrats keep their focus on an issue they can win, unseat Karl Rove, and concede Judge Roberts’ confirmation. We suspect that President Bush rushed his decision on a new Supreme Court justice to take the media heat off of Rove. This will probably work if the Democrats take the bait. But let’s face it, all indications are that Judge Roberts is a highly qualified jurist. He doesn’t seem so far to the right that the country will accept his ideology as a reason to keep him off the court. Also, the Republicans have the votes to confirm him unless the Democrats try to filibuster him. If the Democrats filibuster, the Republicans would use the nuclear option and the country would not blame them. In a losing battle, the heats off of Rove and he stays in the White House. The Pubs win 2-0.

Let the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee give Judge Roberts a thorough review. Ask tough questions about his judicial philosophy. Anyone who stops to think about it realizes that an "activist judge" is one that makes decisions you don’t like. Show how Judge Roberts is or would be an activist judge. That won’t stop his confirmation, but a tough and fair confirmation process might build a case for Bush nominating a moderate next time. If a majority of Democrats vote to confirm Judge Roberts, they will neuter the "Democrats will oppose any Bush nominee" argument. A fair and reasonable confirmation process will strengthen their hand if they need to fight the next nominee.

If the confirmation process does turn up a good reason for Judge Roberts to not be confirmed, then the Democrats will have performed their constitutional duty.

Anna Quindlen has an excellent column in the current Newsweek. She points out that Supreme Court justices often evolve after they join the court. According to Quindlen:

"Rights don't contract in a democracy, they expand. The liberal actions of the Supreme Court of the'60s—the right to an attorney and the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence among them—are taken for granted today. And history is filled with justices who started as titular conservatives only to end as liberals."

There must be examples of jurists who became more conservative after they were appointed to the Supreme Court, but recent history suggests they move the other way. On today's closely divided court, seven of the nine justices were nominated by a Republican president. If Judge Roberts is as intelligent and responsible as he is reported to be, the intellectual challenges of confronting the toughest legal issues may moderate his views. I truly believe our constitution is a "progressive" document. Our constitution and history put the winds of law, history and society at the backs of progressives. We won’t win every battle, but over time, law and society move in our direction.

Let the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee review Judge Roberts and other Democrats keep the media spotlight and heat on Rove. Republicans have been quick to scream that the attacks on Rove are all political. They are political, but not entirely. At this point, the facts indicate that Rove was irresponsible when he mentioned "Wilson’s wife". That is reason enough to go after him.

But are the political attacks on Rove fair? Absolutely. Karl Rove is a master of political machinations. Remember how he got into this trouble. He used his position in the White House to try to discredit a man who was pointing out that President Bush was "fixing" the intelligence on Iraq. A fact reinforced by the "Downing Street Memos". In his zeal to punish a political opponent he put the welfare of CIA operatives and the United States at risk. It may have been an innocent mistake, but it shows Karl Rove cares more about George Bush than he does about the country. He needs to go.

So my suggestion is, be fair with Judge Roberts and give Karl rove the boot.
Dems 1, Pubs 1.

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