Friday, July 29, 2005


Molly Ivins is a favorite columnist of mine. She is definitely a graduate of the Mike Royko School of journalism. I love her acerbic with and independence of mind. Many of her columns are of the if you don't laugh you'll probably cry variety and she does know her stuff.


Austin, Texas – Sheesh, all I knew about John Roberts was that everyone says he has lovely manners – and already I was prepared to be against him.

Knee-jerk liberal? No, congratulations to the White House, Sen. John Cornyn, Fred Thompson and everyone else involved in “managing” Roberts’ confirmation process. Can’t these people do anything without being devious about it? (me-honestly I don't think they can. This bunch is so used to tap dancing around the truth they wouldn't admit they saw the sun come up on a sunny day.)

My first reaction to Roberts was: “Sounds like that’s about as good as we can get. Quick, affirm him before they nominate Bork, Bolton or Pinochet.” A conservative with good manners and no known nutball decisions or statements on his record? Hey, take him. At least he’s not (whew!) a member of the Federalist Society.

No such luck. Cornyn, who I would have sworn is not this stupid, apparently signed off on having the nominee “forget” he was a member of the Federalist Society, and Roberts obliged, which is strange considering his reputation for brilliance and a spectacular memory.

Turns out the guy is listed in the society’s 1997-98 Leadership Directory as a member of its steering committee in Washington, D.C. How many steering committees have you been on that you’ve forgotten about?

The reason that matters is that the Federalist Society is the ur-alpha-primo ultraconservative legal group in the whole country. Since we have only two years worth of Roberts’ rulings on the bench (itself unheard of for nominees to the Supremes) the information about how the society plans to steer the country can be very revealing.

So Roberts already looks disingenuous at best, and then the White House ups and decides it’s entirely too risky to let the public in on his record as a government lawyer and refuses to release the documents requested.

Excuuuuuuuse me, that is public record. Roberts worked for us. He was paid by the taxpayers; this is not a matter of national security. Where does this White House get off pulling this kind of stuff? Right away, it looks as if they’re trying to cover up. Lawyer-client privilege? Are they nuts? Everyone’s first reaction is: So what’s he guilty of?

As Jay Leno notes, this is a big job; these are the people who pick the president. Of course, we’re entitled to know what the man’s record is.

So, now all we know about John Roberts is that he has nice manners and is being managed by a bunch of morons – and he’s willing to say what they spin for him. Then we start getting the record. He’s defended the often violent Operation Rescue. He went to Florida to advise Jeb Bush during the 2000 election recount. Other Federalists signed onto the brief to convince the Supremes to stop the count in Florida and install Bush. It’s all classic, right-wing judicial activism – the very “activism” they complain bitterly about if it doesn’t fit their radical agenda.

Restrict the right of courts to end school segregations, slow down on enforcing laws against discrimination, divest lower courts of jurisdiction over school prayer, go easy on title IX. All that was when Roberts was a junior White House lawyer and the records were opened during the Clinton administration. The records from his time as assistant solicitor general during Bush I are what they’re trying to keep under wraps.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page (the People Who Don’t Read Their Own Paper) tried to describe the Federalist Society as an anodyne debating society. No, it is not’ it is a radical right organization, which explains why the White House made calls to national media to deny that Roberts was a member.

Jerome Shestack, president of the American Bar Association in 1998, said, “So much of the society’s leadership consists of active politicians and others whose slouching toward extremism is self-proclaimed.”

The society is funded by right-wing and libertarian foundations. It attempts to influence legal education and works with right-wing legal advocacy and litigation organizations.

Alfred Ross, of the Institute of Democracy Studies, explains that “through it own 15 practice groups, the society is busy developing new legal theories for every area of American jurisprudence, from civil rights law to national security law, international law, securities regulations law and so on. And if one goes through the publications of their practice groups, one can only gasp not only at the breadth of their agenda, but the extremism of their ideology.”

The society has argued for the abolition of the Securities and Exchange Commission, severely limiting the Environmental Protection Agency and rolling back gender equity laws. Its publications have criticized teaching evolution and attacked the principle of separation of church and state.

Ross says it recently launched a state judicial selection project to try to dominate the state, as well as federal bench. This is all standard, ultra-right-wing claptrap. It’s all about control.

If we can’t shake loose the actual records on John Roberts, we certainly should ay attention to the group he’s most identified with.

Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist based in Austin, Texas.

In my opinion, by the very act of lying and/or allowing himself to be advised to lie Roberts has disqualified himself for confirmation as a member of the Supreme Court. I don’t know what you’d call these guys but it’s not conservative. I can’t help thinking about the fable of little George, the hatchet and the cherry tree. We’ve gone from “I cannot tell a lie” to “I’ll lie until I get caught and then try to bluff it out.” I can think of at least two commandments in serious jeopardy. Coveting the office and lying to get it.


lisaram1955 said...

You have a good point, but I don't think we're going to win this one.  I think that if we hold up this nomination, it will only reflect badly upon Democrats come election time.  I think we say, okay, this guy is a radical AND a liar, but we're going to give him a pass because we want to get this over with and go on to things that are really important.  Lisa  :-]

chasingmoksha said...

It just gives me a headache.  I am just aghast that the American people are allowing stuff like this to happen.