My inbox exploded with e-mails this morning as perhaps yours did. The well-cocked guns of right and left, the complicated campaigns of liberal and conservative and the finger-tapping and finger-pointing legions long prepared for this fight have been set loose upon the Internet.
The starting gate’s flung open, bells clanging, Bush has named his nominee to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s vacancy in the Supreme Court.
The John Roberts nomination, at first blush, looks as reasonable as one might expect of a very conservative president. No one could have expected a centrist; this president is not a representative of the center. According to a Washington Post editorial, before sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C., Roberts was among the country’s best-regarded appellate lawyers. Sounds like solid experience for sitting on what amounts to the nation’s highest appellate court. He’s not made a lot of ideological noise either on or off the court, a conservative with ‘admirers among liberals.’ I like those credentials enough to not shoot from the hip until I learn more.
But the well-cocked guns are impatient and have already gone off, because that’s what well-cocked guns do. All that preparation for disaster, whether it was seen as a disaster of the left or a disaster of the right, has to go somewhere, if only into my In-Box. Too much sound and fury to be quietly vented. Bush has thrown a low-outside pitch, just clipping the edge of the strike-zone and all that steam can’t just be left to its own devices.
We’re girded for a fight and by God we have to have one.
But I have noticed over a fairly long lifetime that the fire and brimstone conservatives we’ve sent to the Supreme Court, as well as their do-gooder liberal counterparts, have never been as bad as we feared or as good as we hoped. A strange thing happens when a man has finally been anointed by the Senate and sent to the robe-room of the Court. Slipping into this or that hallowed chair and casting an eye across the upcoming calendar, the man the president sent becomes the man he has always known himself to be. And that is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, a thoughtful and serious holder of the nation’s faith in its timeless constitution.
The Constitution is a document of what men wrote and the Court is an interpreter of what men meant. Thoughtful interpretation in the place of zealotry is what makes civilized society.
I belong to various and sundry Internet lobbying (for want of a better name) organizations and they are fairly screaming their various exhortations for me to do this or object to that before it is too late. Judge Roberts wrote and argued briefs for clients (including the government) that many would classify as anti-this and anti-that, but he has never said whether or not he agreed philosophically with those positions. A good lawyer represents his client and the best of them do not reveal their individual prejudices in that effort. We may find out more about this man if we listen to him. In Sam Goldwyn’s language, the Internet lobbyists, at least for the time being, will have to ‘include me out.’
It’s no secret that there are many things our president has done that I’m not happy with. I want to hear what John G. Roberts has to say for himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s possible George Bush may have sent us a winner.