The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


There you have it.

Like Clement earlier in the day, Roberts has been described by the cable news bobbleheads as "a blank slate" with "little to no paper trail". Also, in 2003 he was confirmed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, with a number of prominent Democrats voting for him. However, Appellate court confirmations and SCOTUS confirmations are different beasts altogether, and the pie bar is, indeed, higher.

If you're a worried liberal, fear not . . . er, actually, fear. Our new friend Mr Roberts, with whom we'll all soon be well acquainted, is a darling of the Federalist Society (of which he is a member).

And of course we have to get to reproductive rights. Roberts has contradicted himself in the past:
Unlike some possible Supreme Court nominees, Roberts, 50, is considered low-key and has generally avoided weighing in on disputed social issues.

Abortion rights groups, however, have maintained that he tried during his days as a lawyer in the first Bush administration to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

Roberts did co-write a brief that stated, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Pressed during his 2003 confirmation hearing for his own views on the matter, Roberts said: "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."
Well, he's in a position to overturn it now if the right case comes up. Which prominent statement will come out on top? Bill Frist and his buddies will have to forgive me when I say that this is a very reasonable line of questioning to pursue during confirmation hearings.

By the way, RoveGate pretty much guaranteed that Bush was going to pick a Scalia-esque conservative judge. By nominating such a person, Bush has set the stage for a large-scale political battle, waged by reproductive rights advocates and the evangelical right, probably regardless of Roberts explanations for his contradictory statements on abortion. Bush wants to suck the air out of the Rove story, and he thinks this is the way to do it.

The problem with such strategery? It assumes that RoveGate is fueled by the Democrats and Rove's political opponents. Rove's apologists have repeated the phrase "Democratic smear campaign" so many times that they believe their own hype. The only reason this story really ever flares up is because of developments in the investigation, and hard journalism. In the end, Karl Rove is still fucked, for while he and Bush can change the subject for a little while, they can't slow down Pat Fitzgerald's investigation. They're afraid, they moved up a huge decision because of their fear, they selected a potentially polarizing figure because of it, and they're nowhere near out of the woods.


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