- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2005

Divided liberals

Two of America’s most liberal newspapers yesterday split over the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be chief justice of the United States, with The Washington Post urging a ‘yes’ vote, while the New York Times insisted that a Chief Justice Roberts would be too risky.

Judge Roberts “is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have,” The Post said in an editorial.

“He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.”

The newspaper added: “Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy.”

Broad opposition by Democrats to Judge Roberts “would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support,” The Post said.

The New York Times, on the other hand, argued that “the unknowns about Mr. Roberts’ views remain troubling, especially since he is being nominated not merely to the Supreme Court, but to be chief justice. That position is too important to entrust to an enigma, which is what Mr. Roberts remains.”

The newspaper, in its editorial, added: “Senators should vote against Mr. Roberts not because they know he does not have the qualities to be an excellent chief justice, but because he has not met the very heavy burden of proving that he does.”

Dividing line

“Watching senators interrogate John Roberts this [past] week, we kept wondering: Could all eight Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee really vote against someone with so much experience and legal acumen?” the Wall Street Journal asked in an editorial.

“Apparently they might, and if that happens, it’ll say far more about the state of our judicial politics than about Judge Roberts. Nowadays, Oliver Wendell Holmes would struggle to get Democratic votes,” the newspaper said.

“No one doubts Mr. Roberts will be confirmed, especially after a performance this [past] week that revealed as impressive a grasp of Supreme Court case law as any nominee has ever shown. Democrats griped that he didn’t commit himself on assorted liberal precedents. But he was more forthcoming than Antonin Scalia, who was confirmed 98-0 in 1986, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who made it on a 96-3 vote in 1993.

“Senate Democrats came at him fast and angry the first day, with the usual litany of charges that he was opposed to the rights of women, minorities, the poor, the environment, seniors, the disabled, et cetera. But Mr. Roberts so clearly rebutted the charges that by day two the senators were barely hanging around to listen to anyone’s questions but their own. On IQ points alone, it wasn’t a fair fight.”

All in all, the hearings “were useful in illuminating the real dividing line in our current judicial politics.”

“It is between those who view the courts as another policy arm of government, as an engine of social change, and those who share Judge Roberts’ view of judges as ‘umpires,’ not philosopher-kings.”

Unexpected answers

“ABC News producers probably didn’t hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome’s parking lot to get reaction to President Bush’s speech from black evacuees from New Orleans,” the Media Research Center’s Brent H. Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials. Reynolds asked Connie London: ‘Did you harbor any anger toward the president because of the slow federal response?’ She rejected the premise: ‘No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in.’ She pointed out: ‘They had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there, going under water when they could have been evacuating people.’

“Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush — despite Reynolds’ best efforts. Reynolds goaded: ‘Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that’s nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?’ Brenda Marshall answered, ‘No, I didn’t,’ prompting Mr. Reynolds to marvel to anchor Ted Koppel: ‘Very little skepticism here.’”

McCain’s choice

“Will one of the most reliably conservative congressional districts in the country elect a Republican who favors partial-birth abortion, criticizes Social Security reform and waffles on free trade?” John J. Miller writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“It will if voters listen to Sen. John McCain and support California businesswoman Marilyn Brewer in next month’s special election to replace Christopher Cox, who resigned from Congress this summer to become head of the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Mr. Miller said.

“Brewer is considered one of two major GOP candidates in the race for California’s 48th Congressional District. The man standing in her way is John Campbell, a conservative state senator.”

Fulani ousted

Lenora Fulani, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, was removed yesterday from the executive committee of New York’s small but politically influential Independence Party.

Her comments had drawn criticism not only from fellow Independence Party members, but also from powerful Democrats, such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and from Republicans, including New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Mrs. Fulani, who ran for president in 1988 and 1992 on the New Alliance Party ticket, was accused of saying Jews “function as mass murderers of people of color” and “had to sell their souls” to acquire Israel.

Mrs. Fulani and five of her supporters were purged from the party’s 25-member executive committee after more than three hours of often-heated debate.

“There are anti-Semites in this country, and a ton of them,” Mrs. Fulani said before the vote. “Lenora Fulani isn’t one of them.”

She claimed Democrats were behind the move against her because of concern she was leading fellow blacks away from the Democratic Party.

Schiavo’s book

Michael Schiavo is co-writing a book with author Michael Hirsh to tell his side of the end-of-life case that divided much of the country.

Mr. Schiavo’s wife, Terri, suffered a brain injury in 1990 that left her in what some doctors called a “persistent vegetative state.” She died March 31 after a bitter court battle between her husband and her parents.

Mr. Hirsh expects the 280-page book, “Terri: the Truth,” to be available just before the first anniversary of Terri’s death. Dutton Publishing publicity manager Jean Anne Rose confirmed that the company is publishing the book in March.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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