The question of whether Judge John Roberts is qualified to be chief justice of the United States has been rendered moot by his performance in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. He is so obviously -- ridiculously -- well-equipped to lead government's third branch that it is hard to imagine how any Democrats can justify a vote against his confirmation.E.J. Dionne, however, is underwhelmed by Roberts' refusal to answer questions about issues likely to come before the court (which, as many others have pointed out, was perfectly okay when the nominee was Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and urges as many No votes as the Dems can get away with.
The Post's editorial board agrees with Broder (albeit less enthusiastically), and warns Democrats about the consequences of opposing him:
Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy. Before his nomination, we suggested several criteria that Mr. Bush should adopt to garner broad bipartisan support: professional qualifications of the highest caliber, a modest conception of the judicial function, a strong belief in the stability of precedent, adherence to judicial philosophy, even where the results are not politically comfortable, and an appreciation that fidelity to the text of the Constitution need not mean cramped interpretations of language that was written for a changing society. Judge Roberts possesses the personal qualities we hoped for and testified impressively as to his belief in the judicial values. While he almost certainly won't surprise America with generally liberal rulings, he appears almost as unlikely to willfully use the law to advance his conservative politics.Oh, well, two out of three ain't bad, especially from the Post.
For this reason, broad opposition by Democrats to Judge Roberts would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support. While every senator must vote his or her conscience on the nomination, the danger of such a message is considerable. In the short term, Mr. Bush could conclude there is nothing to be gained from considering the concerns of the opposition party in choosing his next nominee. In the longer term, Republicans might feel scant cause to back the next high-quality Democratic nominee, as they largely did with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.