September 5, 2005

On the radio: talking about Chief Justice Roberts.

Needing to be on the radio at 7, I was up unintentionally early at quarter to 5. I read the paper and drove in to the Business School garage next to the University building that houses the public radio station. There's a bat circling around at the level where I normally park, so I drive down another level. I make it to the radio station with a few minutes to spare.

As I sit down to put on the headphones, the assistant comes in with the AP report hot off the wire, marked "URGENT." Bush has picked John Roberts for the Rehnquist vacancy! Ah! I'm here to talk about Rehnquist and the vacancy he's left, so we launch into the hour's discussion with the freshest possible news.

At some point the audio will be The audio is available here.

What did I have to say? I'm impressed by Bush's quick action nominating Roberts. Bush clearly thinks he is the best judge. I expect Bush to act quickly to nominate someone to replace O'Connor and note that O'Connor's resignation has her staying until her placement is confirmed. That means that the Court will have nine members, and there is no worrisome prospect of evenly split decisions. I'm trusting that Roberts will be quickly confirmed (and that no one will die). Don't I think the Democrats will want to delay and examine Roberts even more closely than they were planning to? There will perhaps be a short delay, mostly out of respect for the dead Chief, but I don't think people tolerate much politicizing of the confirmation process. There are two vacancies to get filled and the terrible aftermath of Katrina to deal with. It's not a good time for futile posturing.

But the Democrats have waited so long for this opportunity, and their core constituents are going to expect them to make some showing for themselves. Meanwhile, Bush looks good getting on with it, being crisply decisive — and Roberts is going to inspire us with the look of crisp decisiveness at those hearings. So I'm picturing the Democratic Senators making their points, staking out their positions in a solid, impressive way, without consuming an exasperating amount of time and accepting their defeat with decent grace and a pragmatic appeal for support in the next election.

MORE: If this post were a work of fiction, the bat would mean something. Yet some people would view the bat as meaningful, despite the nonfiction nature of the blog. Oh, okay, I concede there's an element of fantasy in the last sentence of the post, but it's still nonfiction: I really was picturing that ideal response. But anyway, you don't consider the bat an omen or a supernatural presence, do you? I've never seen a bat in the parking garage before, and it was making circles over the precise spot where I'd planned to park my car.

32 comments:

Christopher Drew said...

"So I'm picturing the Democratic Senators making their points, staking out their positions in a solid, impressive way, without consuming an exasperating amount of time and accepting their defeat with decent grace and a pragmatic appeal for support in the next election."

I've read this sentence about a dozen times now, and I'm still trying to determine if this is an attempt at humor. I think of Senators Kennedy, Leahy, Biden, Schumer, Durban, etc., and then I say to myself "accepting defeat with decent grace and a pragmatic appeal for support during the next election." Okay, now I'm laughing.

Simon Kenton said...

Christopher, I too can't tell sometimes whether Ms Althouse is trying to be humorous with a line like this, or it's a charming recrudescence of public spirit, idealism, and altruism from the days of her youth, somehow not quite choked off yet.

I'm not seeing a Gulliver yet, but we've got a real supply of Lilliputians these days.

Michael A said...

radio Link is up and running...

AJ Lynch said...

One of the reasons I enjoy your blog is you post frequently and topics generate the conversational juices.

But think about this- You are I assume a successful law prof, but there you were on Labor Day at 5AM or so, driving to appear on a local NPR show with maybe what 10,000 listeners.

I bet many (though not me) would call that batty!

Paul said...

I'm listening now, sounds pretty good, the bat guano missed you.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Bats are symbols of rebirth - the facing of fears and being reborn. Through this we learn to release fear and anything which does not fit with our new growth. ....

The bat is a symbol of the challenge to let go of the old and create the new - death and rebirth. To many this is distressing, thus so much negativity around it. They symbolize the facing of fears - entering the dark on the way to the light.

Here.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

That said ...

So I'm picturing the Democratic Senators making their points, staking out their positions in a solid, impressive way, without consuming an exasperating amount of time and accepting their defeat with decent grace and a pragmatic appeal for support in the next election.

... you may be asking a lot of one flying mouse.

Ron said...

Perhaps the bat is the Ghost of Nixon, reminding you to BlogEulogize the Chief before using the mass media to discuss filling his chair....

Fictive enough?

Brad V said...

Bats eat mosquitoes and other pests - hopefully gadflies, too, like Chuck Schumer. Definitely an omen of some sort.

Internet Ronin said...

Perhaps the bat was some kind of message from Ann Rice about your Katrina comments.

Ann Althouse said...

AJ: Talking about law with the people of Wisconsin is a central part of my work as a lawprof at the University of Wisconsin. I appreciate that Wisconsin Public Radio provides a forum for that work. And I didn't need to drive in. I could have done it without getting out of bed, in fact, by phone, but I happen to like the studio environment: the sound is better, the professional environment focuses the mind, and it's good to be in the room with the host where you can talk during the various breaks. And once the show's over, it's a short hop to State Street for some cappuccino and bat-blogging.

Ann Althouse said...

Ron: I've got a number of posts about Rehnquist, already. That's as eulogizy as I'm going to get. I don't idolize judges (or politicians). I've done some tributes to a few people who have died in the months I've been blogging, but it all depends on the personal feeling I happen to have at the time. I say what I happen to have to say here and nothing more. I don't make up additional stuff for show.

Ann Althouse said...

I love all the bat comments!

Keep in mind that I have had some personal encounters with bats, described in some old post. Bats are the only animals other than insects and similar small crawly things that I've ever killed (or captured and set free). I have beaten a bat to death with a tennis racket — twice! I have captured a bat in a plastic container and kept it there for hours while I transported it to the animal lab to test for rabies. The bats in the afterworld may be plotting against me.

Ron said...

Ann: Fair enough!

Having just heard it, I liked your radio bit; I thought your responses to the callers were not only good, but quick as well. Too often on radio or TV, people give you one or the other, but you really did seem expert, and that's refreshing!

How's the podcast project?

Frank Borger said...

Listened to the show and really enjoyed it. I also noticed something that is missing in blogs, the sound of the peoples voices and the often obvious emotions.

Ann sounded calm, organized and cool, especially with the curve ball thrown at her about Bush's decision.

Several of the callers, however, to my ears showed obvious distress in their voices. Was it just me or was there fear of Bush's choices evidenced in their speech?

I think the left/right division in politics goes along with the left/right division of the brains. The left-brained tend to be thinkers, while the right-brained tend to be emoters.

karen husemeyer said...

bats look for insects at night by flying around; your car lights must have temporarily had made this bat blind; hence the saying, "blind as a bat." I wonder if Wisconsin Public Radio will counter your take on the US Supreme Court with another viewpoint.

Ann Althouse said...

Frank: You're right that the people who call in sound passionate -- even distressed. But they are also smart and articulate. I'm very used to hearing people get passionate about law and politics, and as a lawprof, it's very normal for me to conceive of my role as helping people see things more accurately, without exaggerating the problems or excessively politicizing them.

Rossputin said...

The hateful response by the left to Rehnquist's death has been reprehensible. They continue to demonstrate why they lose elections.

See my thoughts on this at:
http://rossputin.com/blog/index.php/a/2005/09/05/the_death_of_the_chief_justice_brings_ou

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Keep in mind that I have had some personal encounters with bats, described in some old post. Bats are the only animals other than insects and similar small crawly things that I've ever killed (or captured and set free). I have beaten a bat to death with a tennis racket — twice! I have captured a bat in a plastic container and kept it there for hours while I transported it to the animal lab to test for rabies. The bats in the afterworld may be plotting against me.

Uh huh. Putting on my Choctaw hat (yes, it does have feathers) I'd say you need to figure out what Grandfather Bat is trying to tell you.

Chris said...

Even if O'Connor stays, there will still be the prospect of lots of split decisions if her successor is confirmed mid-term, because her votes wouldn't count for cases that are argued before, but decided after, she leaves.

Ron said...

My ex once knocked a bat down and pinned it with her wooden samurai-like practice sword! She yelled at me to get rid of it while it was screaming away, and I threw a towel over it and we threw it outside. It immediately flew back to the house!

Not the brightest move, I'll admit...

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: I have 2 Bush v. Gore articles, but you'll have to find them on Lexis. And I've never been a soprano.

reader_iam said...

There was a bat flying through the aisles of a large department store where my husband, son and I were shopping on Friday. All of the help (and many of the shoppers) were all a-dither, until one enterprising young associate plucked a large child's net and gently caught the poor creature and then liberated him (her?).

Bat's alive, Robin! We must be in some sort of cosmic-vibration cycle which is confusing are seeing-challenged winged friends!

reader_iam said...

Um, I didn't actually mean a net for a net for a large child, or even a large net for any child (although, given my son's "squirreliness" Friday, I can see the practical applications). Part of the end of season display was nature-collecting equipment FOR children's use, including a large butterfly net.

"This is my brain. This my brain on holiday weekends: vcjr0fdjjdjgrofvjkfz."

Sheesh.

alikarimbey said...

Over at the Scotusblog.com your audio is linked. Cool!

There they talk about the Senate using "nuclear option" if Bush nominates Janice Brown to SDO seat. It further states that the Senate make up will change.

Can this be explained in non-legal terms? What is nuclear option? Why would (invoking this) creates a problem? Also, why the word "nuclear"? Must we always use war-monger words? Is there a better word? I do not even know what this "nuclear option" is supposed to be? Are well going to die?

AKB

peter hoh said...

Ali, I'll give it a layman's try, and those who know better can chime in later. (And this is all through the filter of what I can remember from the major media coverage a few months ago. Plus what I read on this blog. Minus the fact that I'm a wee bit tipsy on wine.)

The "nuclear option" refers to a Senate rules change which would allow the majority (currently Republican) the ability to end a filibuster without the previously required two-thirds majority (which the Republicans don't have right now).

It's called the "nuclear option" because it would do away with the cherished tradition of the filibuster as we've become accustomed to it. The filibuster is not laid out in the constitution. It is a merely a senate rule. And unlike Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Cooper Goes to Washington, senators are not required to speak for hours on end.

Why the war-monger words? Hey, aren't they better than football words?

ziemer said...

to chime in, as invited by peter hoh, it does not take two-thirds to break a filibuster (it takes two-thirds to override a presidential veto), it only takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.

the filibuster is a senate rule (as peter hoh notes, nowhere to be found in the constitution). basically if 41 senators oppose a law, they can yammer and yammer about god knows what, and prevent a vote from ever taking place, even though more than 50 senators support passing the law.

it has never before been employed in nominations, only to stop bills from becoming laws.

but, since bush was elected, senators have been using it to block judicial nominations.

the "nuclear option" is the senate voting to pass an explicit rule that only bills can be filibustered, not judicial nominations.

the senate rule could be changed with only 51 votes -- senate rules don't allow filibusters to block rule changes.

so, nobody will die if the nuclear option is invoked. the only thing that will happen is that there will be a senate rule stating explicitly what we all thought was the rule to begin with -- filibusters are for bills, not nominations.

alikarimbey said...

Thank y'all for explaining to a layman. Mucho Gracias.

peter hoh said...

Thanks, Ziemer, for the corrections. The whole story makes the "nuclear option" seem a whole lot less significant than I thought it was.

The Exalted said...

shouldn't we have the hearings before annointing roberts the perfect justice?

given he basically has no judicial track record, how can anyone possibly be exalting this guy before an examination?

are his pearly choppers and republican imprint all that is needed?

The Exalted said...

uh, ziemer, pretty much everything you wrote is flat out false

1) filibusters have been used on nominations before

2) the other procedural devices used to block up-and-down votes on nominees (such as the home state senator block used extensively by the GOP in the 90's) have been systematically eliminated by the GOP since 2001, leaving only the filibuster

3) since you (correctly) state that the filibuster cannot be found within the constitution, where do you find a basis for you blanket theory "filibusters are for laws, not nominations?"

its amazing, its like the 90's never happened. is it really that easy to falisify history from 10 years ago? the GOP blocked 60 of clinton's nominees. the democrats blocked 10 of bush's. were you alive and breathing during that period?