President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts, lately of the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor was a pleasant surprise.
I was hoping that Bush would not bow to the political pressure to make gender the main criteria for his pick - to replace O'Connor with another woman. Bush and his advisors were clear-headed enough to decide on a nominee based on merit, philosophy of interpretation, and political realities.
Comments from the left last night were rather muted. Only Harry Reid's comments seemed ominous: "The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry. The Senate must review Judge Roberts' record to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness."
Where will the battlelines on Roberts' conirmation be drawn? A piece in today's Washington Times sheds light:
In 1990, Judge Roberts co-wrote a legal brief that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that made abortion a constitutional right.
"The court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion ... finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution," the brief said. "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."
But during his 2003 confirmation hearing, the judge said he would be guided by legal precedent.
"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent," Judge Roberts told senators in May 2003.
In last night's announcement, Mr. Bush cited a 2001 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee from more than 140 members of the D.C. Bar, including a former counsel to two Democratic presidents.
"Although as individuals we reflect a wide spectrum of political party affiliation and ideology, we are united in our belief that John Roberts will be an outstanding federal court [of] appeals judge and should be confirmed by the United States Senate," the president cited the letter as saying.
Democrats and liberal advocacy groups will likely bring up several rulings and briefs from the judge's past. In private practice, Judge Roberts wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation affirmative-action program.
During his tenure in the first Bush administration, Judge Roberts co-authored an amicus brief arguing that public high-school graduation programs could include religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court disagreed 5-4.
Also during his time in the first Bush administration, Judge Roberts helped argue before the court -- successfully this time -- that doctors and clinics receiving federal funds may not talk to patients about abortion.
To read the entire story, click HERE.