Your Lying Eyes

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29 August 2005

My Man, Roberts

The NYT and Washington Post, in two very different articles, reaffirm my faith in the Roberts nomination.
The Times covers Roberts's reputation as an exacting grammarian and wordsmith. This is good news since even if the majority of opinions continue to go the liberal way, there will be at least another rhetorical heavy hitter to join Scalia in writing withering dissents. (Although my favorite line of the past term goes to Thomas in his Johnson v. California dissent. Contrasting the court's earlier deference to the U. of Michigan's affirmative action policies to the complete dismissal of the California DOC's prison administration, he noted that "whatever the court knows of administering educational institutions, it knows much less about administering penal ones." But this contrasted with what must surely be the absolutely most stupid statement of the year (decade? century?) in the majority decision by O'Connor: "by insisting that inmates be housed only with other inmates of the same race, it is possible that prison officials will breed further hostility among prisoners and reinforce racial and ethnic divisions.")

WaPo's article is a little more substantive. The paper reports on a memo Roberts wrote to the Attorney General arguing for a more aggressive administration response to forced busing and workplace quotas, suggestion legislation banning both. "[He] warned explicitly that Reagan's opposition to affirmative action quotas and busing to achieve racial balance in public schools "could be instantly reversed" by a new administration." While the Stalinist (and counter-productive) policy of racial busing was euthanized a few years back, it was during the succeeding Bush I administration that the 1991 Civil Rights Act (aka the Quota Bill) passed. This kind of news is going to make it real tough on Democrats, because their left wing is going to get more and more upset but voting against him is going to be hard to justify. Sure, for Kennedy, Schumer, Leahy et. al. it won't be a problem, but how is Harry Reid going to go back to Nevada and assure his constituents that he had to vote against Roberts since he was against busing?!

This memo puts Roberts to the right of Bush on civil rights issues. Another memo puts him to Bush's right on illegal immigration as well. A 1982 memo discusses the Supreme Court decision (that day) which held that a state (Texas) could not deny free, public education to illegal immigrants (I forget, sometimes, how left-wing the court used to be), and criticized the administration's decision not to file a brief supporting Texas. Yep, I think he's a keeper.


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