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    John Roberts A Safe Pick, But How Sound?

    Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    President George W. Bush's pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is Harvard grad and long time Washington insider John Roberts. Most everyone agrees Roberts is a "safe" pick and will win easy confirmation. Even Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is already on board. Democratic opposition will no doubt be nothing more than ceremonial. Conservatives are touting Roberts as a "strict constructionist" and are proudly proclaiming that President Bush has "kept his word" to put a conservative on the High Court.

    However, whether Roberts is a "conservative" or "strict constructionist" is yet to be seen. All in all, we really know very little about John Roberts. That fact alone has some conservatives worried.

    Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter recently wrote, "We don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth candidates have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever. Oh yeah, we know he's argued cases before the Supreme Court. Big deal! So has Larry Flynt's attorney." Ann is right.

    We certainly cannot depend on Republican leaders, conservative organizations, or even leaders of the Religious Right to tell us the truth about this Supreme Court nominee or about any other decision made by this president for that matter. You see, Bush is a Republican, and, unfortunately, today's conservative leaders have become little more than robotic cheerleaders for whomever the Republican president is that happens to be in office at the time.

    Many of us can still remember when conservative leaders and spokesmen for the Religious Right were hailing the nominations of Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. So much for their allegiance to objective truth!

    The single most admired trait possessed by John Roberts is that he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. This might be a good sign. It might not.

    One disturbing element on Roberts' record is the manner in which he forthrightly disassociated himself from briefs which he helped write in opposition to the Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision. He specifically said that those briefs "do not necessarily reflect his views."

    In other words, Roberts said that just because he wrote an anti-Roe brief, don't take that to mean that he personally subscribed to what he wrote. If that isn't lawyer mumbo-jumbo, I don't know what is. One thing is sure: Roberts' record on the subject is anything but certain! And, of course, by all accounts, while President Bush quizzed his court nominees at length regarding their personal fitness regimen, he never broached the subject of the potential nominee's personal views on abortion!

    Furthermore, in 2003, Roberts emphatically stated, "Roe v Wade is the settled law of the land. There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent." Therefore, it seems certain that John Roberts' presence on the U.S. Supreme Court will do nothing to alter or abolish Roe v Wade.

    The fact that Roberts is a Harvard grad could also be a disturbing sign for conservatives. Sadly, the once great institution founded for the purpose of training Christian ministers has become an institution epitomizing liberalism and social engineering. Then again, even Harvard matriculates some committed conservatives (by complete accident, I'm sure). Notables such as Howard Phillips, Edwin Vieira, Jr., Antonin Scalia, William Rehnquist, and Alan Keyes come to mind.

    Other points of concern are that Roberts worked with the liberal establishment law firm of Hogan & Hartson and the left-wing Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

    The fact is, we simply do not know enough about John Roberts to properly assess his fidelity to constitutional government. His "settled law" statement regarding Roe is the most decisive (and disturbing) element to his resume, and that bodes ill, not well, for Roberts' future performance on the High Court. That conservative leaders are fawning over Roberts proves their total lack of serious study or commitment to objective truth. But, there is nothing new about that.

    All of us who are committed to constitutional government and to the importance of overturning Roe v Wade would like to be hopeful regarding John Roberts appointment. At this point, hope is about all we have to lean on.

    © Chuck Baldwin

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