Over days of testimony, he dodged and weaved around many other critical legal issues. On abortion, church-state separation, gay rights and the right of illegal immigrants' children to attend public school - all currently recognized by the court - he asks to be accepted on faith. That just isn't good enough.The WaPo comes out in favor of Roberts, making what I think is the most basic point: "Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy." The WaPo analyzes the politics of opposing Roberts for the Democrats:
[B]road opposition by Democrats to Judge Roberts would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support. While every senator must vote his or her conscience on the nomination, the danger of such a message is considerable. In the short term, Mr. Bush could conclude there is nothing to be gained from considering the concerns of the opposition party in choosing his next nominee. In the longer term, Republicans might feel scant cause to back the next high-quality Democratic nominee, as they largely did with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.Clearly, this is important, and it's something the NYT editorial doesn't talk about at all. Is it because the NYT is more principled? No, the NYT is more political, insisting that the nominee come out in favor of the positions it cares about before it will support him. The Times doesn't even face up to the issue of the illegitimacy of binding the nominee to particular outcomes. The WaPo stands back and looks at the politics of the nomination. The NYT remains entirely embedded in the politics.
If presidents cannot predictably garner confirmation for nominees with unblemished careers in private practice and government service, they will gravitate instead to nominees of lower quality who might excite their bases. Mr. Bush deserves credit for making a nomination that, on the merits, warrants support from across the political spectrum. Having done their duty by asking Judge Roberts tough questions, Democrats should not respond by withholding that support.
Extra observation: The NYT brings up the french fry case. Did any Senator question him about that one? No! I wonder why not, since it fits the John-Roberts-doesn't-care-about-people theme so well. Oh, how I would love to know the details of why they decided not to bring up the french fry about which we heard so much before the hearings. I'm guessing they decided it clashed with their most important theme: deference to the legislature (AKA: how much power we want you to say we have).
UPDATE: A reader writes:
Your reason on your blog for Senators not bringing up the french fry case seems accurate, but there is another interesting aspect to this. Senator Feinstein seemed to be one of the major advocates of almost unlimited legislative power via the Commerce Clause (at least based on what little I heard and on one of your posts). But, Gonzales v. Raich oveturned a law that a large majority of her constituents passed (well over sixty percent if I recall correctly--and probably near unanimous among those who vote for her). I presume that for her to be consistent, one would have to assume she must support the majority result in Raich, thus effectively negating the wishes of her constituents. I haven't heard anything about it in local California newspapers, however.