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July 21, 2005

Oppose Roberts -- to the extent useful

-- by John Emerson

The consensus now seems to be that Roberts is an authoritarian establishment Republican, but not quite a movement conservative.

It's confusing the issue to say that as a government lawyer he was "just doing his job", so that the arguments he made tell us nothing about his own positions. Roberts is a member of the Federalist society, which is why he got most of his jobs, so we know he's very conservative. A few nuances or specifics are uncertain, but we can know that he will be very bad.

I think that people are mixing up the question of how bad Roberts is with the question of how ferociously he should be opposed.

He's bad, but (like Gonzales) not as bad as the worst. However, thinking that way allows the Republicans to continually float horror-show candidate possibilities in order to make other very bad candidates look sort of OK. I think that's what's happening.

During the last 10 years or so, all the rules of civility have become inoperative. No President "has a right to have his appointees confirmed" any more. Clinton didn't. (A deal was cut on Ginsberg, who is quite moderate, but no deal is being offered now). Dozens of Clinton's lower-court candidates were blocked.

So now an appointee can legitimately be opposed for any reason. There's no need to defer to the President, or to make a sophisticated legal argument, or to prove that the appointee is a perv or a monster. If you think he's too conservative, vote against him. And Roberts is too conservative.

The sad fact, though, is that the Democrats have a terribly weak hand because of the Senate losses in 2004. The chances of stopping Roberts, even with a filibuster, are slim to none. So I think the question now is to resist Roberts (knowing that we will lose) in whichever way sends the best message to the voters about the Democrats, the Republicans, and Roberts.

I'm not sure how that would be done exactly, but I think that that's what we should be talking about.

P.S. I'm pretty sure that Roberts will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Sure, he has no paper trail and we can't prove anything, but what are the chances that the Bush people don't know what his position will be? What are the chances that Republican operatives aren't scurrying around among the pro-lifers right now to assure them that Roberts is OK? Let's not fool ourselves.

The fact is that we should oppose anyone Bush nominates, if we can achieve anything by doing so. That's how the game has been played recently. No reason to change anything now.

Posted by John Emerson at July 21, 2005 9:51 AM

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Comments

Posted by: Mary at July 21, 2005 10:43 AM

Look at Alliance for Justice's site, www.afj.org, for a great summary of Roberts' past decisions.

Posted by: Winston at July 21, 2005 11:29 AM

John,
like you 'Operation Rescue' and other (misnomed) 'pro-life' outfits think Roberts will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Just look at how all those 'Christians' are gloating ..

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at July 21, 2005 1:09 PM

Democrats keep misunderstanding what it's all about. It doesn't matter how many votes you have in the Senate. The ONLY thing that matters is how much of your ranting gets on air and how effective it is in affecting the "thinking" of Americans. There is no such thing as political capital. You do not "use up" anything by screaming about everything, all the time. It just has to get on the air and be sufficiently well-crafted to plant a meme in the heads of idiots. Bush should be constantly fought. Everything he says. If he says it's raining when it's raining, he must be contradicted. This is how repugs have achieved power and this is the only way it can be taken back. (Other, rejected, possibilites include rational discourse, superior governance and violent revolution. All of these are, of course, absurd in America.)

Posted by: richard at July 21, 2005 1:52 PM

One thing people have been saying is that a big Roberts fight might detract from the Rove fight -- which I think we can win. I'm still enough of a Democrat to think that they might be right on that.

Fighting everything all the time would be the way to go except that far too many Americans either sympathize with Bush or tolerate him. It's not just a matter of getting the word out or waking people up. To a large degree we have to change their minds.

Just an addendum: all the people who are suggesting that Roberts might really be OK are either sinister or terribly pitiful. The Volokhs were trying to sell that sack of shit -- what a bunch of tools and creeps.

Posted by: John Emerson at July 21, 2005 2:21 PM

Repugs are selling their many memes the way a large corporation with many brands operates. They sell them all, all the time. Big pharma doesn't stop pushing one drug when they start pushing another one. Neither do the repugs. They have a relatively fixed (but huge) cost to maintain the vast noise machine. And "this one goes to 11." And stays there all the time.

Can't fight that? Then you lose. Go home.

Posted by: richard at July 21, 2005 7:28 PM

Richard, my big issue over the last 3+ months is that the Democrats (or any other resistance group) have to put together a new national media. The more media we have, the harder we can fight each issue. Right now we're at a big disadvantage.

Can't fight that? Then you lose. Go home.

Well, I quit blogging when I decided that we had, in fact, lost. But I keep sneaking back.

But I do not like your tone at all. One of the reasons I'm a Democrat rather than a Green right now is that I'm not quite sure whether the Democrats are more effective than the Greens. I know that the Greens are completely ineffectual, but I'm not completely sure about the Democrats. So if I want to make something happen, the Democrats are slightly better, whereas if I want to be ineffectual, the Democrats are pretty much as good.

If any Green (which I used to be, sort of) ever convinces me that the Greens might be effectual someday, I will rejoin them. But I will continue to ignore sniping like yours.

Posted by: John Emerson at July 21, 2005 8:13 PM

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