IT WILL BE A DAMNING INDICTMENT of petty partisanship in Washington if an overwhelming majority of the Senate does not vote to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. to be the next chief justice of the United States. As last week's confirmation hearings made clear, Roberts is an exceptionally qualified nominee, well within the mainstream of American legal thought, who deserves broad bipartisan support. If a majority of Democrats in the Senate vote against Roberts, they will reveal themselves as nothing more than self-defeating obstructionists.
JOHN G. ROBERTS JR. should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States. He is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have. He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.
New York Times:*
John Roberts failed to live up to the worst fears of his critics in his confirmation hearings last week. But in many important areas where senators wanted to be reassured that he would be a careful guardian of Americans' rights, he refused to give any solid indication of his legal approach. That makes it difficult to decide whether he should be confirmed. Weighing the pluses and minuses and the many, many unanswered questions, and considering some of the alternatives, a responsible senator might still conclude that he warrants approval. But the unknowns about Mr. Roberts's views remain troubling, especially since he is being nominated not merely to the Supreme Court, but to be chief justice. That position is too important to entrust to an enigma, which is what Mr. Roberts remains
Well, what kind of logic do you expect from a paper that's decided to charge people for the privilege of reading columnists like Dowd and Krugman online?
Anyway, two out of three ain't bad. The Democrats should keep the first two editorials in mind when they vote for Roberts' confirmation. But they probably won't. Prediction: Roberts will not get more than 15 Democratic votes.
UPDATE #1: James Taranto of Opinion Journal:
It looks as though John Roberts will be confirmed with only a few Democratic votes. Bloomberg News reports that Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, announced this afternoon that he will vote against the chief justice-designate. Reid's words could have been scripted by the New York Times editorial board:
"No one doubts that John Roberts is an excellent lawyer and an affable person," Reid of Nevada said on the floor of the Senate today. "But at the end of this process, I frankly have too many unanswered questions about the nominee to justify a vote confirming him to this enormously important lifetime position." . . .
In his speech today, Reid said that the decision "is a very close question" and stopped short of encouraging his fellow Democrats to oppose Roberts. The minority leader also said the party won't use parliamentary tactics to block the vote.
We're guessing this means no more than a dozen Democrats will vote for Roberts, and maybe considerably fewer.
Great minds think alike!
UPDATE #2: Leahy to Back Roberts for Chief Justice
The senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday he will vote to confirm John Roberts for chief justice of the United States after leading senators met with President Bush to discuss candidates for a second high court vacancy.
The decision by the veteran Vermont senator dealt a serious blow to liberal efforts to mount significant Democratic opposition to the conservative judge who would succeed the late William H. Rehnquist at the helm of the court.
Leahy's announcement on the Senate floor came shortly after he and three other senators met with Bush at the White House to talk about the vacancy created by the decision by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to retire.
Ah...The plot thickens!
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UPDATE #3: Thanks for the link to this post: