Sunday, July 24, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: Our forgetful nominee 

Remember the question we asked (back): Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society?

And remember John Roberts's eminently parseable denial that he had "no recollection" of belonging to The Federalist Society, the uber-winger front organization whose "elves" worked with Linda Tripp, White Feather's Mom, and Ken Starr to overthrow Clinton, and to which F/Buckhead, he of superscript fame (back, belongs?

Of course you do.

Well, a look at the 1997-1998 Directory for the Federalist Society would have refreshed Robert's memory:

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

So, the hagiography was good only to wrap the rotten mackerel of the Bush administration. What a surprise!

Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society provides some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret [I wonder why?] , but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members.

In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability. Roberts's membership was routinely reported by news organizations in the context of his work in two GOP administrations and legal assistance to the party during the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida.
(WaPo via Democratic Underground)

It gets better. Not only did Roberts, um, forget that he was in the Federalist Society's Leadership Directory, he forgot that he was on the Steering Committee:

Roberts is one of 19 steering committee members listed in the directory, which was provided to The Post by Alfred F. Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies in New York, a liberal group that has published reports critical of the society.

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo said that either he or another official of the organization recruited Roberts for the committee. Roberts's task was to serve "as a point of contact within the firm to let people know what is going on" with the organization.

Nice position for a spot of D.C. networking, eh?

And it sure was nice of Leo to come forward and clear up the confusion in the media on this point. Oh wait, he didn't?! I wonder why not?

And now, let the parsing begin!

Membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society's leadership, Leo said.

So, Roberts was a leader, just not a member. Roberts was a Steering Committee member, just not a Society member. Check.

Last Wednesday, the day after Bush announced Roberts's nomination, the officials working on the nomination asked the White House press office to call each news organization that had reported Roberts's membership in the Federalist Society to tell them that he did not recall being a member.

Excellent work by the nomination team! Especially the "did not recall" part. That way, the White House press office was technically telling the truth! [How refreshing for them.] But the "being a member" part is good too, since you can be a leader and a steering committee member, without being a member!

Asked yesterday if the White House would have done so knowing about the leadership directory, [Whitewash House flak Dana] Perino said "Yes."

I'll bet. What else could she say?


Here's a simple little statement of fact, a question that should be very easy to answer. To repeat: Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society? And, since he who is faithful in little is faithful in much, all the White House had to do was answer "Yes." But, with typical arrogance—they must have imagined that nobody would simply look up Roberts's name—they had to issue a carefully worded and eminently parseable denial.

So, Schumer is right. Lots of questions for Roberts. Lots and lots and lots. Because if the White House starts spinning on a question so simple, what else will come up if we really start digging?

For starters, let's get an answer to this one:

What "private advice" did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000? After all, Roberts "operated in the shadows for 37 days" (back), so he must remember something!

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