Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

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.”

Roberts Trivia


I join in the general acclamation of John Roberts as the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court. This was a bold, brave choice. The president revealed much about his own character as someone who makes decisions on a principled basis, does not pick fights gratuitously, but is not afraid that someone else will pick one either.

Here’s a bit of Roberts trivia: he will be the first former clerk to a justice of the Supreme Court who will join the Court as a justice himself while his old boss is still serving–assuming that Roberts is confirmed and that Chief Justice Rehnquist, for whom he clerked 25 years ago, is still serving when he is sworn in. Four other justices in the Court’s history have previously served as clerks to justices of the Court, but none before has joined the Court alongside his or her former boss. (Anyone care to name the other four?) As the junior justice, Roberts will relieve Stephen Breyer (after eleven years) of the duty of answering the door when the justices are closeted for their private conferences. I can imagine the twinkle in Rehnquist’s eye when his old clerk takes up those duties.

Stop the Madness!


Consultation Craziness: Ralph Neas on CNN just announced he is disappointed that Harry Reid and Bill Frist weren’t standing next to him as he made his announcement.

It’s going to be a long ridiculous ride.



I understand Dick Durbin’s original draft statement accused Roberts of being Pol Pot’s lawyer.

What People for the American Way Is Saying


Kathryn :

This evening, President Bush nominated John Roberts to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. The Radical Right has been chomping at the bit for weeks in anticipation of this announcement. The Senate must now stand up to the pressure to simply rubber-stamp the President’s pick. Tell your Senators to fulfill their constitutional obligation to advise and consent.

The next 24 hours are crucial. Tell your Senators to withold their support for Robert’s nomination until they have all the facts about his troubling record. Unless you and thousands of other activists speak out right away, the Bush administration may lock up the support of dozens of members before the confirmation process truly gets underway and the American people have a chance to learn where Roberts stands.

At this critical moment, we need you to do more than just call or write your Senators.

We need you to do both, and get your friends to do the same.

1) Call Senator Schumer at (202) 224-6542 and Senator Clinton at (202) 224-4451to demand that they thoroughly review John Robert’s record before lending him their support.

2) Write Senators Schumer and Clinton to make sure they heard the message you delivered to them by phone.

3) Forward this email to your friends, amplifying your message by getting them to call and write their Senators themselves.

John Roberts

What we know about John Robert’s record as Deputy Solicitor General and as a judge shows a troubling lack of concern for the fundamental civil and constitutional rights of all Americans. Americans deserve a justice who will protect our rights and freedoms. Serious questions must be addressed before Robert’s nomination to the nation’s highest court can be evaluated properly.

Some alarming aspects of Robert’s record they must consider include:

Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that issue. His brief plainly states that “Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled.”

Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the Supreme Court, which rejected his argument.

Environmental Protections: As a judge, Roberts suggested in a dissent that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied to a California development case.

Veteran Protections: Roberts argued American POWs tortured in Iraq during the Gulf War should not be able to utilize federal courts to pursue their claims.

Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would only have gotten a paper citation in that situation.

Your Senators need to hear from you today–there must not be a rush to confirm John Roberts until all the facts are in! Call and write your Senators to demand that they fulfill their constitutional obligations of advice and consent – our rights hang in the balance!

–Your Allies at People For the American Way


Phone: (202) 224-6542


Phone: (202) 224-4451

Click hear to send them a message.

Support PFAW’s Supreme Court Defense Fund

I Know I’m an Obsessed Junkie Type


But at 10:14 I realized Greta was already back in Aruba.

“Looks Like Him”


Susan Estrich just said on Fox that Roberts “looks like” Bush. Uh, meaning, he’s a white guy?


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