July 23, 2005

"I'm glad we had Souter-phobia."

Fred Barnes writes about "Souter-phobia" in the White House and how Bush's key question to the five persons he interviewed was whether they'd be the same 25 years from now. Roberts made the right impression: he wasn't going to "grow in office." As Barnes tells it, the Bush folks turned their Souter-detection machinery on full blast:
Bush advisers studied how the nomination of Souter came about. It wasn't that Souter, who'd served on the New Hampshire Supreme Court and, briefly, as a federal appeals court judge, misled his interrogators on the staff of the elder Bush. The problem was that the White House "didn't ask, 'Are you a conservative, why, or when did you become one?'" an aide to the current president says. "They didn't ask any of those questions." Those questions were asked of Roberts. "I'm glad we had Souter-phobia. If we hadn't asked these questions about judicial philosophy and the view of the court's role, the nominee wouldn't have been John Roberts."

Roberts is not a "stealth" nominee in the Souter mold. "We know a lot more about Roberts than was known about Souter," a Bush aide says. Roberts went through the confirmation process before, when he became a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He was endorsed by much of the Washington legal community and by colleagues from the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The president received messages through intermediaries that conservative Justice Antonin Scalia felt Roberts would be a great addition to the High Court....

Besides the Bush interview, Roberts had to pass another test, the Rove interview. Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, and legal counsel Harriet Miers talked to the candidates for the court at length. Rove, too, was interested in finding out if Roberts was really a conservative and would remain one on the court. He came away convinced Roberts is no Souter.
So I guess Scalia will welcome his new colleague, and I wonder how all of this pains poor David Souter. Or is he completely aloof, distanced, and bemused?

5 comments:

Gerry said...

Great word, bemused. I should have chosen that rather than the ever-useful standby "is" I did in your post the other day. I have an old email account based on the word bemused.

So I will go with bemused, but I could be biased.

peter hoh said...

Souter-detection machinery -- sounds like something out of Harry Potter.

jvg1249 said...

I suspect Souter is more worried that disgruntled citizens in New Hampshire may still try to turn his house into a hotel for a better "public purpose" than it is currently serving.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

A lot of things lawyers say have that Harry Potter sound to them. I can picture Harry leveling his wand at Malfoy and shouting Stare Decisis!

amba said...

OxBlog tried to track down the first use of the word "unBorkable," and found this. Then, I have fun trying to turn "Souter" into a comparable verb/adjective -- in this case, an intransitive one, as in "Roberts won't Souter out on him." If anyone can do better than "unSouterble," come on over and post it.