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August 09, 2005

Was Ann Coulter Right All Along About Judge Roberts?

She said he was a Souter in wolf's clothing. The Powerline guys said maybe she was just flacking for him on the sly, trying to make him more palatable to liberals by suggesting he was a liberal.

But maybe he is a liberal after all.

I didn't get to say this on the show today. But what can we read from his pro bono efforts on behalf of "gay rights"?

I don't really know the merits of the case, so I can't comment. But I find this a little distressing, not because I don't like gays, but because gay "rights," like abortion, is a useful proxy issue. I'm not pro-life myself (well, I'm a moderate; I support abortion rights with restrictions), but I tend to support pro-life candidates, not because I support their positions on abortion, but because I know it's a useful proxy to determine how they stand on 90% of other issues. If they can stand up to the New York Times editorial page on the crucial issue of abortion, they're not likely to be shirking violets on taxes or terrorism.

Same with this gay rights issue. Again, I have no idea if Roberts was on the right side or not, but I do know he personally chose this issue and dedicated a fraction of his limited pro-bono hours to litigate the case.

Does that make him a liberal? Or just a conservative with some liberal-ish or libertarian leanings? I don't know, but I'm beginning to suspect Coulter is right-- no one actually knows for sure.

Conservatives were quick to rebut liberals' charges that Roberts was too conservative for the court; his brief against abortion under the Bush I administration, they said, was not indicative necessarily of his real political leanings, because he was just acting as an advocate for his client (in this case, the first Bush Administration).

Okay, so if we believe that, we can't take his Reagan and Bush era memos as a reflection of his politics, right?

But this pro bono case wasn't a case he had to take. He chose to. He may have been acting tactically (to appease liberals later, should he be nominated for a court); he may have simply thought the provision in question was unconstitutional or just plain unfair.

But... he did choose this case himself. And he chose which side to argue on. Again, I don't know if he was right or wrong; I'm just saying that on one of the few cases where he took a position out of his own free will, he was on the liberal side of things.

Kaus makes this point in a different way. Let's say, Kaus reasons, he just took this case because of the general pressure at big law firms to do good work for liberal causes. Geeze, it's not like there'll be similar pressures to advance liberal causes on the Supreme Court now, right?

I don't know. I just don't know. This whole nominating process has become a farce. No one is allowed to ask candidates what their political or jurisprudential leanings might be, resulting in decisions made without much information at all.

Maybe Charles Schumer should be allowed to grill Roberts on his theory of jurisprudence... because I really would like to know for sure we're putting a conservative, or at least a moderate/conservative, on the Court.

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posted by Ace at 08:46 PM

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