Thursday, September 15, 2005

A hearty conclusion

On the last day of questioning in the John Roberts confirmation hearings, the Democrats seem to have found a favorite new buzzword.... "heart":

Schumer praised Roberts’ quest for modesty and stability, and for being his “a lawyer above all.” But on the con side, he said, “is the question of compassion and humanity.” Kennedy said the law demands a “heart and a head,” else it becomes “a sterile set of rules.” Feinstein was openly impressed by Roberts when she first met him, but later became more skeptical of the nominee after criticism mounted among liberal interest groups and documents from Roberts’ time as a young lawyer in the Reagan and first Bush administrations revealed his conservative bent.

Feinstein set the tone for the Democratic strategy on Wednesday when she expressed concern about “John Roberts the legal automaton.’’

“I don’t really know what I’m going to do,” Feinstein said today. “I had one impression of you when we had our hour in private, and to a great extent, I think I came out of that meeting with a different sense of you.”

The impression she has now, she said, “is of this very cautious, very precise man — young, obviously with staying power.”

Granted, it is a bit irritating to hear these Democratic Senators questioning the heart of someone who by all accounts is a very virtuous man, thereby positioning themselves as models of compassion. But all they are doing here is getting in a few digs for the benefit of the more extreme factions of their base who like to equate Roberts with the Fuhrer. Gotta feed the kooks from time to time.

Another who questioned the heart of Roberts was Senator Dick Durbin. The answer that Roberts gives here is perfect, and should satisfy any lingering doubts about him being the right man for the job:

Durbin asked him if it is “important enough for you to say, in some instances, I will not use my skills as a lawyer because I don’t believe that that is a cause that is consistent with my values and beliefs?”

Roberts replied that he had been asked him privately if he would take the side of the little guy. “You obviously want to give an immediate answer,” Roberts said, “but as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win because my obligation is to the Constitution. That’s the oath. The oath that a judge takes is not that I’ll look out for particular interests. … The oath is: uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that’s what I would do.”

Roberts shows a clear understanding here about the role of a Judge. It is not to stand up for the little guy -- that is activism and has no place in the High Court. But neither is he obliged to show favor to the big guy. His role as a federal Judge is simply to uphold the law and the Constitution.

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