Questions for John Roberts

If I had the opportunity to ask John Roberts a few questions before his Supreme Court confirmation, sure I'd want to know all that important stuff about his 'judicial philosophy,' and the reach of the Commerce Clauses, but at this point I'm more interested in the answers to the following questions:

  • Has he ever attended one of Sally Quinn's parties?
  • How often does he agree with the editorial page of the New York Times?
  • Does he like NASCAR?

    As I think those questions make apparent, I'm less worried about whether or not he was editor of the Harvard Law Review than I am about the possibility that he might have ingested so much East coast elitism as to find irresistible the seductive appeal of being part of that Georgetown crowd.

    Come to think of it, I guess that means I am worried about the fact that he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.

    There's one thing I wouldn't ask him about, and that's 'his general attitudes about abortion.' Obviously, there are situations in which that question would be very relevant. For example, it would be important to know how someone with whom one is contemplating physical intimacy or marriage, whichever comes first, would answer the question. In the public policy context, if a person is running for state legislature, or even Congress, asking him the question makes sense.

    Why in the world, though, do we need to know that about a prospective Supreme Court justice? Is it just me, or does it seem to make as much sense to ask him his general attitudes about the designated hitter? Supreme Court justices are supposed to base their decisions on the Constitution, not their 'general attitudes' about particular medical procedures, even if those procedures are considered sacraments by some in the religious Left.

    What am I missing? As it turns out, I'm missing a lot. My apparent cluelessness here puts me out of step with the rest of the country, if the mainstream media's polls are to be believed. According to these polls, taken in connection with Judge Roberts' nomination and released on 7/21/05, anywhere from 50% according to AP to 75% at CNN, of Americans believe it is appropriate for senators to ask Roberts about his general attitudes toward abortion. Even more disturbing is the finding that six in 10 say it's OK to ask him about specific abortion cases.

    That's a very interesting finding. I would love to see how that question was phrased. Do you suppose it was as follows:

    'Since the American Bar Association prohibits a candidate for judicial office from appearing to take a position on issues that might come before his court, is it appropriate to ask a judicial nominee about specific abortion cases?'

    Or how about

    'Since at her confirmation hearing Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg refused to answer questions about specific cases or issues that might come before the Supreme Court, should President Bush's nominees be forced to answer these questions?'

    I'm guessing that the questions were a little different, perhaps something more along the lines of

    'Since extremist right—wing judges like John Roberts are often hostile to women's rights and are indifferent to the fact that WOMEN WILL DIE as a consequence of their out—of—the—mainstream judicial activism, don't you think we need to demand that he swear an oath to Roe v. Wade before this whole thing goes any further?'

    Why is the media so obsessed with pointing out that most Americans 'need to know more' before they can bless this nomination? Why does the media try to persuade us that everyone approaches the idea of a vacancy on the Supreme Court with the single—mindedness on the issue of abortion that consumes liberals?

    The answer is simple. Rank and file liberals were outraged by President Bush's selection of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But they have been outraged for the last several years. I know that the nomination is less than a week old, but their cauldron of seething rage has been simmering since 2000. They waited eagerly, expecting that the fire under it was going to be stoked by the insertion of an actual name to precede the appellation 'right—wing, out of the mainstream extremist Bush crony,' at which point the steaming contents would be served up to a waiting public. Armed with this knowledge, that same public would rise up against this evil threat to the American way of life.

    Then, all of a sudden, a funny thing happened. The liberal interest group firecracker was a dud. No one seemed to be buying the hysterical raving that seemed so compelling back in days of Robert Bork. What to do? The media cavalry rides to the rescue, to remind the knuckle—dragging, mouth—breathing public that they do need to be afraid, be very afraid. He's going to sentence women to back alley abortions, remember?

    Meanwhile, Senate Democrats adopted the Eddie Haskell routine that is the trademark of Al—Jazeera's favorite American statesman, Dick Durbin, pledging to 'keep an open mind' and 'reserving judgment until the hearing.' I think most of us realize that that's as phony as a Chappaquiddick neck brace. With the Democrats in the minority, Borking is out. Ted Kennedy and friends will use a less abrasive strategy, one that fits with our 'Dancing with the Stars' day and age: twirling about the political dance floor, doing the Estrada.

    You remember that snazzy dance step. Ask for documents that you know are privileged, then express sincere, head—shaking, lip—biting regret and disappointment when you are refused access to them.

    The same people who are worried that the government might violate Mohammed Abdul Mohammed's rights, while investigating whether he learned how to make anthrax at the local library, are outraged that an attorney won't blow his nose on a privilege that has existed since late sixteenth century. A suggestion: if and when Dick Durbin feigns sorrow over his frustration that he can't overcome the evasiveness of this otherwise excellent nominee, the administration should request copies of his internal e—mails to determine whether he is beholden to left—wing interest groups. Now there's a question that is relevant and appropriate.

    Teri O'Brien hosts a talk show on WLS—AM radio in Chicago. Her blog page is here, and her newsletter is here. 

  • If I had the opportunity to ask John Roberts a few questions before his Supreme Court confirmation, sure I'd want to know all that important stuff about his 'judicial philosophy,' and the reach of the Commerce Clauses, but at this point I'm more interested in the answers to the following questions:

  • Has he ever attended one of Sally Quinn's parties?
  • How often does he agree with the editorial page of the New York Times?
  • Does he like NASCAR?

    As I think those questions make apparent, I'm less worried about whether or not he was editor of the Harvard Law Review than I am about the possibility that he might have ingested so much East coast elitism as to find irresistible the seductive appeal of being part of that Georgetown crowd.

    Come to think of it, I guess that means I am worried about the fact that he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.

    There's one thing I wouldn't ask him about, and that's 'his general attitudes about abortion.' Obviously, there are situations in which that question would be very relevant. For example, it would be important to know how someone with whom one is contemplating physical intimacy or marriage, whichever comes first, would answer the question. In the public policy context, if a person is running for state legislature, or even Congress, asking him the question makes sense.

    Why in the world, though, do we need to know that about a prospective Supreme Court justice? Is it just me, or does it seem to make as much sense to ask him his general attitudes about the designated hitter? Supreme Court justices are supposed to base their decisions on the Constitution, not their 'general attitudes' about particular medical procedures, even if those procedures are considered sacraments by some in the religious Left.

    What am I missing? As it turns out, I'm missing a lot. My apparent cluelessness here puts me out of step with the rest of the country, if the mainstream media's polls are to be believed. According to these polls, taken in connection with Judge Roberts' nomination and released on 7/21/05, anywhere from 50% according to AP to 75% at CNN, of Americans believe it is appropriate for senators to ask Roberts about his general attitudes toward abortion. Even more disturbing is the finding that six in 10 say it's OK to ask him about specific abortion cases.

    That's a very interesting finding. I would love to see how that question was phrased. Do you suppose it was as follows:

    'Since the American Bar Association prohibits a candidate for judicial office from appearing to take a position on issues that might come before his court, is it appropriate to ask a judicial nominee about specific abortion cases?'

    Or how about

    'Since at her confirmation hearing Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg refused to answer questions about specific cases or issues that might come before the Supreme Court, should President Bush's nominees be forced to answer these questions?'

    I'm guessing that the questions were a little different, perhaps something more along the lines of

    'Since extremist right—wing judges like John Roberts are often hostile to women's rights and are indifferent to the fact that WOMEN WILL DIE as a consequence of their out—of—the—mainstream judicial activism, don't you think we need to demand that he swear an oath to Roe v. Wade before this whole thing goes any further?'

    Why is the media so obsessed with pointing out that most Americans 'need to know more' before they can bless this nomination? Why does the media try to persuade us that everyone approaches the idea of a vacancy on the Supreme Court with the single—mindedness on the issue of abortion that consumes liberals?

    The answer is simple. Rank and file liberals were outraged by President Bush's selection of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But they have been outraged for the last several years. I know that the nomination is less than a week old, but their cauldron of seething rage has been simmering since 2000. They waited eagerly, expecting that the fire under it was going to be stoked by the insertion of an actual name to precede the appellation 'right—wing, out of the mainstream extremist Bush crony,' at which point the steaming contents would be served up to a waiting public. Armed with this knowledge, that same public would rise up against this evil threat to the American way of life.

    Then, all of a sudden, a funny thing happened. The liberal interest group firecracker was a dud. No one seemed to be buying the hysterical raving that seemed so compelling back in days of Robert Bork. What to do? The media cavalry rides to the rescue, to remind the knuckle—dragging, mouth—breathing public that they do need to be afraid, be very afraid. He's going to sentence women to back alley abortions, remember?

    Meanwhile, Senate Democrats adopted the Eddie Haskell routine that is the trademark of Al—Jazeera's favorite American statesman, Dick Durbin, pledging to 'keep an open mind' and 'reserving judgment until the hearing.' I think most of us realize that that's as phony as a Chappaquiddick neck brace. With the Democrats in the minority, Borking is out. Ted Kennedy and friends will use a less abrasive strategy, one that fits with our 'Dancing with the Stars' day and age: twirling about the political dance floor, doing the Estrada.

    You remember that snazzy dance step. Ask for documents that you know are privileged, then express sincere, head—shaking, lip—biting regret and disappointment when you are refused access to them.

    The same people who are worried that the government might violate Mohammed Abdul Mohammed's rights, while investigating whether he learned how to make anthrax at the local library, are outraged that an attorney won't blow his nose on a privilege that has existed since late sixteenth century. A suggestion: if and when Dick Durbin feigns sorrow over his frustration that he can't overcome the evasiveness of this otherwise excellent nominee, the administration should request copies of his internal e—mails to determine whether he is beholden to left—wing interest groups. Now there's a question that is relevant and appropriate.

    Teri O'Brien hosts a talk show on WLS—AM radio in Chicago. Her blog page is here, and her newsletter is here.