August 19, 2005

Roberts reined in Reagan.

Here's what looks like good news about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.
Newly released documents from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library reflect Mr. Roberts's repeated efforts to protect Mr. Reagan and his aides and supporters from some of their own most zealous instincts. He warned against excessive public presidential support for the Nicaraguan contra rebels. In 1984, he wrote a somewhat defensive note to his boss, the White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, arguing that it was all right for a presidential letter on minority business enterprise to speak of "encouraging government procurements," adding, "I do not think 'encourage' connotes anything in the nature of a set-aside or quota."

In 1984, Mr. Roberts objected to the proposed draft of a presidential campaign speech that would have had Mr. Reagan refer to the United States as "the greatest nation God ever created." Mr. Roberts wrote, "According to Genesis, God creates things like heavens and the earth and the birds and the fishes, but not nations." He added that the phrase was "a likely candidate for the 'Reaganism of the Week.'"
He sounds like a tough and clear thinking character. We need someone with good instincts and the nerve and the intelligence to see the excesses in others and to stand up to them — in crisply apt English.

There's a limit to what we can infer from old papers, and we don't know how well the NYT picked through the documents and interpreted what it found, so I'm not going to become giddy with high hopes about Roberts. Still, I can't help but think that he will dramatically improve the quality of Supreme Court opinions. We shall see.


Wave Maker said...

Your disclaimer about NYT is interesting -- wouldn't you have to believe that a newspaper that send people out to dig up his childrens' adoption records would have picked through these documents pretty thoroughly?

The more I read from this fella, the more I appreciate his wry wit and sharp humor -- especially the piece you cite in your previous post about homemakers becoming lawyers, which was (predictably) misconstrued by his detractors. But that's the problem with reading statements filled with irony and double entendre twenty years later.

Sloanasaurus said...

I have always wondered why some of the liberals in the 1980s who supported the Sandanistas (such as John Kerry) have not paid a political price for their total failure in the supoprt of democracy and freedom around the world.

Too bad we didn't have blogs back then to offer a different point of view. The media lied so much about the Contra/Sandinista conflict, it is a wonder all of Central America isn't a communist dictatorship.

Gort said...

He is a good pick. No one can predict how he will decide any case. Judges have a way surprising you.

Dirty Harry said...

Ann you're awesome. I love this blog. Just had to say that because it's friday, I'm in a good mood, and it's true.

What I love about the way Roberts worked here is not just his judgement but that it was a "loyal" judgement. This was a man with his eye on the ball not him trying to change the goals of the Reagan admin. This was his way of furthering or at least not hurting those goals.

This isn't Richard Clarke. This is a loyal team player who knows how to smartly achieve conservative goals.