September 12, 2005

Questions for John Roberts.

The NYT op-ed page has five persons each writing five questions for John Roberts.

Glenn Reynolds is one of the five. He asks, among other things, "Could a human-like artificial intelligence constitute a 'person' for purposes of protection under the 14th Amendment...?"

Another lawprof, Kathleen Sullivan, wants to know "What are three constitutional issues you think will be more important by 2020 than any on which we are focusing now?" Probably those human-like artificially intelligent thingies, I'm thinking, picturing Haley Joel Osment.

Jean Edward Smith, a professor who's written a book about John Marshall, wants to know if Roberts will wear the Rehnquistian stripes on the robe — because, you know, Chief Justice John Marshall started the whole no-fancy-robes style for the Court.

Ron Klain, who was chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the highly unusual Clarence Thomas hearings, asks:
Over the past 50 years, 20 different men and women have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Recognizing that political labels are of limited value, and generalizations are generalizations, I wonder if you can identify one of these 20 jurists - just one - who you think has a view of constitutional rights that is "to the right" of your view, as that label is commonly used by legal commentators?
Duh... Clarence Thomas? That's what Klain is — absurdly — trying to make Roberts say. That'll happen.

Finally, there's Dick Thornburgh, who served as Attorney General under Reagan and elder Bush and who gets the prize for shortest questions (and you know damned well the Senators aren't going to ask any short questions). I get the feeling, though, that his questions aren't short because he tried to make them pithy. I think he just didn't work as hard on the assignment as the other op-editorialists. He's got stuff like "How do you envision the role of a chief justice?" on the list.

9 comments:

ALH ipinions said...

If the outcome of these hearings is as predictable as it seems and we already know the talking points that will be laced throughout questions from both sides, why so much interest? This non-event hardly seems worthy of TiVo....

I fully expect Roberts to emulate Bader-Ginsburg with no answer answers to most questions - only with a more ingratiating smile...

Simon said...

I think Glenn asks the best question:

Does a declaration of war by Congress have the effect of suddenly making proper actions by the executive and Congress that would otherwise have been beyond their constitutional powers?

This becomes very relevant in light of the 4th Circuit's extremely questionable (and likely, doomed on appeal) ruling in Padilla on Friday.

Adam said...

My one question:

Under what circumstances would you feel obligated to uphold as binding precedent a Supreme Court decision regarding constitutional interpretation that you believe was wrongly decided in the first instance?

me said...

The nomination hearings are rarely substantive; instead they are usually pure hyberbole.

I was fortunate to be going through my first semester of law school during Bork. So notwithstanding that I was quite a lefty back then, I saw through the condemnation.

For Thomas, I think the whole nomination was hypocritical. The person against affirmative action gets an appointment through affirmative action. Also, from an objective standpoint, Anita Hill was telling the truth. Thomas got in because of Southern Democrats who did not want to alienate black voters.

As for Roberts, there is no reason not to confirm. No one has the political capital to stop him. The country is focused on other matters.

His nomination will be uneventful.

Steven said...

My answer to the "on the right" would be, "I agree the generalization is vastly imprecise. So my best answer is, Ginsburg if Justice O'Connor is still sitting, Breyer if she's been replaced. After all, one's view of aqnything depends on where one sits."

I don't know if that sort of thing would go over well, but it's the kind of answer I'd give.

BoneUSA said...

The Klain questions disappointing, if not suprising, since he most likely shares the thinking of current Dem committee members. The VAWA question is totally disingenuous; the same thing can be asked with respect to every non-federal crime. Klain knows the issue is not whether "misogynistic attacks" should be treated differently among the states.

Same with the false premise for the affirmative action question. Are any existing affirmative action programs restricted to individuals whose families suffered past discrimination?

It looks like we're in for a lot of sound and fury.

Sigivald said...

My ideal response to the first question (re. AI) would be something like "Well, that's a poser, isn't it?"

He should have to think about one like that, probably for a while, before answering. (Unless, that is, he's already thought about it thoroughly in the past, but that's pretty unlikely, on the evidence I have. If he's been a long-time science fiction fan or the like, maybe he has.)

Simon said...

Maybe someone should ask him: Judge Roberts, if you had to share a transcontinental train journey with one of your illustrious Court collegues, past or present, who'd you pick: the Yankee From Olympus, or Sancho Panza from New Jersey?

(With reference to Prof. Wagner's blog)

cokaygne said...

OK, Mr. Umpire: It is a cold night on the last day of the season. The wind is blowing in at about 20 mph, and the air is filled with a fine drizzle, and possibly sleet. It is the bottom of the 9th in a tied game. The bases are loaded with two out and the home team's best batter, who leads both leagues in walks and on base percentage, is at the plate. On the mound is the visiting team's closing pitcher who leads both leagues in blown saves and unintentional walks. In a tough inning he has walked one batter, caused another to reach base with a wild throw to first, and yet another to get aboard with a wild pitch. There is no one left in the visitor's bull pen. The home team needs a win to go into the post season. The visitors have the worst record in all of baseball and, win or lose, are going home after this game. The count is 3-2 after the batter has fouled off 4 pitches. Despite the cold wind and rain and the fact that it is after midnight, the stands are full and no one has left the game. The pitch is thrown and approaches the low and outside corner of the plate. The batter does not move. The ball thumps into the catcher's mitt. How do you call it? Does the likely reaction of the fans affect your decision? Who sees the ball's location better, you or the batter?