Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

This Morning


Rose Garden

7:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, how are you? I just had a cup of coffee with the nominee and told him I thought things were off to a very good start for his nomination. I’m not surprised — he’s highly qualified for the job. He’s the kind of person that will bring great dignity to the Court. Judge Roberts is off to the Senate this morning to begin his consultations. I’m confident the senators will come to realize what I’ve come to realize: We’re lucky to have a man of such wisdom and intellectual strength willing to serve our country.

I’m also confident that the process will move forward in a dignified, civil way. In my conversations with senators last night, we discussed how important it is that Judge Roberts get a fair hearing, a timely hearing and a hearing that will bring great credit to our nation and to the United States Senate. And so I told Judge Roberts over coffee that we’ll provide all the support that’s necessary for the senators to be able to make up their minds, that we will push the process forward, because he and I both agree that it’s important that he be sworn in prior to the Court reconvening in October, and that I wished him all the best.

So I appreciate you coming by for coffee this morning.

JUDGE ROBERTS: Thank you very much.

END 7:32 A.M. EDT

More Radio


Shannen Coffin and Ed Whelan will be on Michael Graham’s radio show this ayem.


Indiana Boy


Abortion in the Court


Here’s the National Right to Life Committee on the stakes.

Boring, But that’s Alright



Last Night and This Morning


totally feels like campaign season. Which is somewhat appropriate inasmuch as this is one of the most important reasons Bush was reelected–the courts.

What She Said


Hanna Rosin: “At the Capitol, Democrats Wait To Fill in the Blank.” Confirmation of the obvious.

The Harvard Majority


More trivia: With the addition of Roberts to the Court, five of the nine
justices will have their law degrees from Harvard, the others being Scalia,
Kennedy, Souter, and Breyer. A sixth justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began
at Harvard but transferred to Columbia. The others? Thomas graduated from
Yale’s law school, and only Rehnquist (from Stanford) and Stevens (from
Northwestern) graduated from law schools too far west to smell the Atlantic

Harvard is a huge and diverse law school, and it is not to be expected that
its graduates all think alike–as we can see they don’t when we look at the
justices who studied there. And a nominee’s law school, especially when it
is one of the handful every student wants to attend, should not be held
against him. But is it the best of all possible worlds when a majority of
the nine most powerful lawyers in America went to the same law school?

Sticking with the Talking Points


The NYTimes is a lot more non-committal and suspicious about Roberts in its editorial.

“A Fight, Maybe, but Not a Battle”


So says Ron Brownstein. He writes:

In effect, Roberts may represent an effort to thread the needle in filling the court vacancy. The selection could offer Bush an opportunity to maximize his chance of a relatively smooth confirmation while minimizing the danger of either conservative disaffection or scorched-earth Democratic opposition.

The Decision Process: The Clincher


From Nina Easton:

A senior White House official stressed yesterday that the choice reflected a personal connection that Bush made with Roberts during the vetting process.

”He really hit it off with Roberts,” the official said. ”As you know, the president is a person of intuition and he saw in [Roberts] not only a brilliant legal mind but a terrific judicial temperament. This guy is a thinker. He’s not a polarizer.”



From the Washington Post editorial this morning:

Judge Roberts is a conservative, but he has never been an ideological crusader; he has admirers among liberals. If confirmed as the successor to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, it is likely that he will shift the Supreme Court toward the right. But his nomination is not a provocation to Democrats — as some other possible nominees would have been. Mr. Bush deserves credit for selecting someone with the potential to attract broad support.”

Think Roberts Is Young?


Say It Ain’t So, Joe



Among Democrats, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) may well be the most crucial voice in the Gang of 14. Republicans were pointing last night to a statement he made last week that appeared to say that he saw no justification for a filibuster of Roberts, but an aide said last night that he was misinterpreted and would wait for a fuller examination of Roberts’s record before making any judgment about his suitability.

Scroll Down


to about 7:47 this evening for the Roberts reax…and check The Corner too.

Watch for Shannen Coffin on GMA on ABC tomorrow


And Cliff May on CNN’s American Morning…

Coffin on Roberts


Schumer on Roberts


Hugh Hewitt transcribed Senator Schumer’s initial reaction:

“There’s no question that Judge Roberts has outstanding legal credentials and an appropriate legal temperment and demeanor. But his actual judicial record is limited to only two years on the D.C. Circuit Couirt. Fot the rest of his career he has been arguiong cases as an able lawyer for others leaving many of his personal views unknown. For these reasons it is vital that Judge Roberts answer a wide range of questions openly honestly and fully in the coming months. His views will affet a generation of Americans and it is his obligatio during the nomination process to let the American people know those views. The burden is on a nominee to the Supreme Court to prove that he is worthy, not on the Senate to prove that he is unworthy. I voted against Judge Roberts or the D.C. Court of Appeals because he didn’t answer questions as fully and openly when he appeared before the committee. For instance, when I asked himn a question that others have answered –to identify three Supreme Court cases of which he was critical, he refused.”

Alberto Gonzales


“Dumbass Questions”


“Some [of his questions] I totally disagree with,” Hatch of Utah said. “Some I think are dumbass questions, between you and me. I am not kidding you. I mean, as much as I love and respect you, I just think that’s true.”


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