Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Harry Reid will vote against Roberts, and because he's the Senate Minority Leader (and because he's pretty centrist himself), this means that there will probably be lots of 'no' votes on the left side of the aisle. So I guess the sending-a-message-about-robust-Democratic-opposition approach won out over the avoiding-the-'obstructionist'-label-in-case-a-filibuster-is-needed-to-block-whoever-Bush-chooses-to-replace-O'Connor approach.

This may indeed turn out to be a smart maneuver, and it may be useful in the midterm elections. But mainly the audience to this gesture is Bush/Rove: it is a warning that Dems will fight against his nominees. With the president in such a weakened position, it could be a warning that's hard for Karl Rove to ignore. The tricky thing is that its true effectiveness will really only be known behind closed White House doors.

Now everyone hold your breath until the next nominee...

3 comments:

Dmnkly said...

As a centrist who (proudly) claims no party affiliation, I think this is a big mistake. Admittedly, this is a gross simplification and my interpretation, but since all justification of no votes thus far seem to center around "we don't have enough information [regarding his positions]" I think a no vote on Roberts indicates one of three things:

1) A lack of understanding of judicial independence and objectivity.

2) A disregard for the importance of judicial independence and objectivity.

3) A willingness to use the supreme court confirmation vote in a purely political manner.

Though I know you'll disagree (as I know you're rather fond of doing things in a purely political manner :-), I find all three of these scenarios troubling to various degrees, and would consider no votes under these circumstances to be a huge negative mark against any senator who chose to vote this way... including any potential future presidential candidates.

Obviously, I leave open the possibility that I'll be persuaded by some other reasoning of a no-voting senator that I might not have considered, but thus far I have yet to be shown that there's ANY reason Roberts should not be confirmed.

Rob said...

The judicial branch is independent of the legislative, sure enough, but one of the consitutional checks given to the legislative is this vote. A 'no' doesn't disregard judicial independence if the 'no' voter has reached the conclusion that America would not be well-served by a Chief Justice John Roberts.

Consider this extremely incomplete rationale for voting no:

1.) Because Roberts has only been a judge for a couple of years, he doesn't have anything like the body of judicial opinion that most SCOTUS nominees have had, by which the nominee's jurisprudence can be judged in a way that's transparent, democratic. And yet the hearings I listened to were a week's worth of lawyerly evasions and debate-team point-scoring by Roberts, impressive for their emptiness.

2.) Throughout his five years in office, Bush has been "engaging in an open, high-stakes campaign to reshape the Court and U.S. constitutional law." This isn't a mischaracterization or even a matter of opinion, really--note with emphasis the word "open."

3.) Given these two things, it is fair to ask: Was Roberts answering the Senators' questions in good faith, or was he merely hemming to a political line?

How would you answer this question? The answer probably determines whether or not you'd vote for confirmation.

Speaking as someone who mildly disagrees with a 'no' vote on the purely political level, I'd say that if anything Reid is voting his conscience here. This is also why I think that we can make the politics work for us, because I think Dems are in good faith in their opposition.

Rob said...

Here is a much more detailed and edifying essay about the decision faced by Reid and the senators. This guy, a Yale law professor, comes down on the side of a no, but not simply, and he outlines both the substantive and the political case on both sides. See what you think!