Thursday, July 21, 2005

Damn, it's all.. sticky 

Philly in the summer? No—the Roberts hagiography!

Please. Just spare me. I don't care about his cute kids, his nice guy demeanor... Any of that stuff. Two things I'd like to know:

Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society? The WaPo story is mysteriously unenlightening. The headline is "Federalist Affiliation Misstated". But the text of the story reads as follows:

And practically everyone -- CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Legal Times and, just yesterday, The Washington Post -- has reported Roberts's membership as a fact. But they are wrong. John Roberts is not, in fact, a member of the Federalist Society, and he says he never has been.

"He has no recollection of ever being a member," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman who contacted reporters to correct the mistake yesterday.

How... very parseable. I mean, how could somebody forget? And isn't it interesting that the White House is actually calling reporters to, er, "correct" the story?

How this urban legend got started is not clear. The issue probably got clouded in part because the Federalist Society's membership is confidential; individual members must decide whether or not to acknowledge their affiliation

So the headline is wrong, isn't it? The headline should read that Roberts says he isn't a member of the Federalist Society, or, even more precisely, can't seem to remember whether he was or not. Look, I don't care if Roberts lied to us. He's a Republican, so we expect that. But should someone with a memory that bad really be on the Supreme Court? Why, he might forget about the Bill of Rights! Oh, wait...

And the other thing I'd like to know:

What "private advice" did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000? As we noted yesterday (back) Roberts gave Jebbie "private advice" until the Supreme Court selected Bush. But it's hard to see why whatever Roberts said should remain private when he might be called upon to decide the next Bush v. Gore. It certainly does seem that Roberts made every effort to cover his tracks:

As the 2000 presidential recount battle raged in Florida, a Washington lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr. traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to dispense legal advice.

He operated in the shadows at least some of those 37 days, never signing a legal brief and rarely making an appearance at the makeshift headquarters for George W. Bush's legal team.

[U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), then speaker of Florida's House of Representatives]speculated that Senate Democrats might well ask Roberts for his view of the Bush-Gore recount outcome. But he advised Roberts to duck.

"I don't know that there is any political benefit to answering that question," Feeney said.

Well, I'm an optimist, unlike Feeney. I can't believe that Roberts, the son that Mother Theresa never had, would have anything to hide. So maybe someone should just ask him. E.J. Dionne agrees:

Like the chief justice, Roberts has been a loyal Republican Party operative. He was reportedly involved in the Bush legal effort in 2000 to block further recounts in Florida. We always knew that the Supreme Court conservatives who helped put this president in office were paving the way for an even more conservative court. Roberts's nomination is the fruit of that effort. Surely he should be questioned closely about one of the most outrageous decisions in the court's history and his role in the Florida fiasco.
(via WaPo)

Stealthy Republican operative ... No paper trail... No "recollection" of whether he's a member of the organization whose "elves" orchestrated the coup against Clinton... "Private advice" to Jeb Bush in the run-up to Bush v. Gore... Lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions.

And we haven't even gotten to Roe. Like, will "devout Catholic" Roberts stand up for "settled law" when the Pope decides Roberts can't take communion? And we haven't gotten to Gitmo, either. Or Roberts as corporate lawyer. (I guess that's better than being a trial lawyer, right?)

This one's not over. The Dems are smart to admit Roberts has got the credentials, let the story simmer, and keep the focus on Rove.

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