After watching the SCOTUS rumor mill all day, I'm pleasantly surprised that President Bush decided to nominate Judge John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
The President wisely took advantage of his bully pulpit to present his nominee directly to the American people in a televised speech that, for once, all the networks carried. Although the rumor mill had been suggesting Edith Clement or even Edith Jones was going to be nominated, the President went against the conventional wisdom in nominating Judge Roberts rather than another woman to replace Justice O'Connor. The President also calmed fears of conservatives who were afraid that he would nominate Alberto Gonzales to the Court. In fact, the media again showed themselves to be totally out of step with reality in their reporting of the rumors surrounding this nomination.
The President also seized the opportunity to frame the debate over the nomination with his brief statement tonight. Here are the key points in the speech:
"He's an honors graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School."
Opponents of the nomination will have to be prepared to ask smart questions. Judge Roberts clearly is a smart guy.
"In his career he has served as a law clerk to Justice William Rehnquist, as an associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan and as the principal deputy solicitor general in the Department of Justice.
In public service and in private practice, he has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court and earned a reputation as one of the best legal minds of his generation."
Obviously he already knows his way around the Court and his professional credentials are beyond question. The Left is not going to be able to argue that he doesn't have the appropriate curriculum vitae for the Court.
"After he was nominated for the Court of Appeals in 2001, a bipartisan group of more than 150 lawyers sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. They wrote, 'Although as individuals we reflect a wide spectrum of political party affiliation and ideology, we are united in our belief that John Roberts will be an outstanding Federal Court of Appeals judge and should be confirmed by the United States Senate.'
The signers of this letter included a former counsel to a Republican president, a former counsel to two Democratic presidents and former high-ranking Justice Department officials of both parties."
He enjoys support from all across the political spectrum and from a number of legal heavyweights. He's not a nominee that will easily be characterized as "out of the mainstream".
"He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution in laws, not legislate from the bench."
The President has said repeatedly that he intended to appoint a strict constructionist to the Court and has accomplished that goal with this nomination.
"I believe that Democrats and Republicans alike will see the strong qualifications of this fine judge, as they did when they confirmed him by unanimous consent to the judicial seat he now holds."
This was my favorite line from the entire speech. The message to the Democrats was simply this: Confirm him. Now.
Democrats will have no choice but to confirm him. If they object too loudly, they will show themselves to be the obstructionists that they truly are. The beauty of this nomination is it gives absolutely no ammunition to the Left to use in the confirmation process.
I expect Roberts to be confirmed fairly easily after a lot of shouting from the Left.