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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

“In the Ballpark”



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Joe Lieberman, beforethe pick: “He said federal appellate Judges Michael McConnell and John G. Roberts were ‘in the ballpark,’ and that ‘people tell me’ appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson is ‘very similar.’”

You’ll Be Hearing This A Lot in Coming Days



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President Clinton’s two nominations took an average of 58 days from nomination to confirmation.

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Congratulations, President Bush



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President Bush deserves great credit for his outstanding selection of John Roberts. He has fulfilled his promise to nominate someone who has excellent credentials and who understands the role of the judiciary in our constitutional republic.

Cornyn, Not the Nominee, Comments on the Nominee



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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Texas Supreme Court justice, made the following statement regarding the expected nomination of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr., 54, to the Supreme Court of the United States:

“The President will soon announce his nominee to the Supreme Court: Judge John G. Roberts, Jr, currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In doing so, he will urge the Senate to consider this nomination thoroughly and expeditiously. The President has done his part, and now we in the Senate must do ours. We must ensure that the nominations process does honor to the Supreme Court, to the Senate, and to the Nation.”

“Judge Roberts is an exceptional judge, brilliant legal mind, and a man of outstanding character who understands his profound duty to follow the law. He has enjoyed a distinguished history of public service and professional achievement. It is clear to me that Judge Robert’s history has prepared him well for the honor of serving this country on our nation’s highest Court, and I strongly support his nomination.

“The nominations process should reflect the best of the American judiciary – not the worst of American politics. America deserves a nominee who reveres the law, not one whose service on the bench is conditioned on political promises. As we proceed, let us do so with dignity and respect, as anything less would dishonor our nation’s founding commitment to the rule of law. The process ahead must be marked by an appreciation of the high office involved, and a personal respect for this fine nominee.”

Judge Roberts received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1976, his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1979, and upon graduation became law clerk for the Hon. Henry Friendly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1979-1980. He then worked as law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice William Rehnquist, 1980-1981; special assistant to the attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, 1981-1982; associate counsel to the president, White House Counsel’s Office, 1982-1986; private practiced law in Washington, DC, 1986-1989, 1993-2003; and served as principal deputy solicitor general, U.S. Department of Justice, 1989-1993.

Life In the Family



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Since the Washington Post wrote about Bush’s women and abortion today, how about Judge Roberts’s? John Roberts’s wife, Jane, has served as executive vice president of Feminists for Life (FFL is one of my favorite groups).

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Harry Reid’s Lukewarm Statement



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John Roberts, he says, has “suitable legal credentials.”



He has to prove his commitment to “freedom, equality, and fairness”

Another Reason It Should Be Hard to Give Him a Hard Time



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From AP:

Roberts’ nomination to the appellate court attracted support from both sites of the ideological spectrum. Some 126 members of the District of Columbia Bar, including officials of the Clinton administration, signed a letter urging his confirmation. The letter said Roberts was one of the “very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation” and that his reputation as a “brilliant writer and oral advocate” was well deserved.

I Do Love



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that the president has not established the O’Connor seat as a Women’s Only seat. And, ahem, they said he couldn’t do it.

What National Journal has Said About Roberts



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“John Roberts seems a good bet to be the kind of judge we should all want to have — all of us, that is, who are looking less for congenial ideologues than for professionals committed to the impartial application of the law.”

Confirming Him



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Dems will, of course, find a way to give him a hard time, but they’ve got the obstacle of having fairly recently put him through the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation deal fairly recently for his D.C. Circuit seat–May 2003.

RE: Roberts



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If he is confirmed without too much to-do, my faith in the judicial nomination process might be restored. I recently told a liberal friend that Roberts truly is the “best available” nominee. When she asked what that meant (and wondered “if Roberts is a old white guy or worse a middle aged white guy?” I responded as follows:
John Roberts was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit court of Appeals in the last few years, though he was first nominated in 1991 by Bush 41. He is a “middle-aged white guy,” but he is universally regarded as among the best Supreme Court advocate in the nation, bar none. He clerked for Rehnquist, was deputy SG, is a remarkable oral advocate and a sharp legal mind. He is liked and admired by all of the current justices, who regularly look forward to cases in which he is representing one of the parties because of the quality of his work. If a case is winnable, he will win it. It is a travesty he was not confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in the 1990s when first nominated. Setting aside ideology — and he has a sterling conservative reputation despite the relative lack of a paper trail — he is close to the Platonic ideal of what a Supreme Court nominee should be.

Born 1955



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That’s making use of the presidential Scotus power!

So I guess



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Judge Roberts is back from London.

it’s john roberts



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CNN reporting

re: TradeSports



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As much as I would like it to be Jones, those casting bets in her favor are wrong. I’ve got very solid information that it will not be her. Place your bets.

My Question Right Now



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Is anyone reading in John Roberts class in Georgetown’s London program? Want to tell me if he taught today? (Ann Compton supposedly said he is D.C. I don’t know if she was assuming that or knows it.)

Tradesports.com Is Going Gaga



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“If I had to bet a dollar right now...”



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Stuart calls Luttig.

Brit Hume



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is asking Stuart Taylor temperament kinda questions on Roberts on his show right now. I sense he’s getting the same vibe I’ve been getting the last hours or so.

More Ann Compton



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Passing on secondhand:

Compton did note that it can’t be Edith Jones because she was in Houston at
4 p.m. (but who’s to say she can’t make it to Washington juuuuust in time if she left at 5 p.m.). Another commonly floated nominee is in Philly [I'm unclear who--anyone know where Mary Ann Glendon is? I can dream.] and John Roberts is in town.

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