open thread on the robert’s nomination

I haven’t been following the nomination hearings very closely… If you have any thoughts, observations or suggestions as to articles that I, and others, might want to check out, please leave a comment… In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this terrifying, and perhaps telling, image, just obtained from Google during a search for “John Roberts.” Let’s hope it doesn’t portend something evil on the horizon.

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  1. Posted September 13, 2005 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Well that’s the creepiest thing I’ve seen since the snips from the Roberts confirmation hearing this morning. Transcripts can be found here:
    Doesn’t take very long to get to the controversial bits.

    Have you searched for your name on Google Images lately, Mark?

  2. Shanster
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    It seems to me, from the simple report on yahoo, that Roberts is very reasonable, which may anger some on the right (Ann Coulter). My bet is that he will maintain both the right to privacy, and the principle of Roe v. Wade, but will not extend abortion rights, and probably wouldn’t rule against any legislation that limited them. Incidentally, did people question John Kerry about his Roman Catholic faith influencing his ability to govern?

  3. be OH be
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    John Kerry is an elected representative and, if I’m not mistaken, was never required to testify at a confirmation hearing.

    Having said that, I don’t believe that a nominee’s personal beliefs neccessarily influence their descisions regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. As long as the person can objectively look at all sides of a case and render an honest, unbiased ruling, I don’t care if they’re a member of Heaven’s Gate.

  4. dorothy
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    from time to time i look in on the hearings during the day and i’ve found roberts to be a slippery, oily creature who never seems to answer anything directly. maybe it’s because he’s a lawyer, but he annoyed diane feinstein so much that she snapped, “can’t you answer me with a simple yes or no?” he seems to slide sideways on every question. all the republicans do is praise him and laud his qualifications when it’s their turn for questions. he’s one scary son of a bitch. i don’t know what to think.

  5. Shanster
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Did you read the link that Hillary sent? I can see why you think Roberts is oily, but I think he’s not being deceptive, just a legalese-speaking lawyer (or maybe that’s the same). From the transcripts (which can’t include sighs and eye-rolls), it seems that his answers satisfied Feinstein to some extent.
    If you read the transcripts, I don’t think you’ll find as much ‘praising’ and ‘lauding’ as you mentioned. Maybe that’s what Randi Rhodes finds, but if you read it as objectively as you can, all you find is lot of minutiae and pontificating from all the senators (Especially Sessions).

  6. Posted September 14, 2005 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    “In your oral argument you went on to make this point by comparing Operation Rescue’s attempts to prevent a woman from exercising her privacy right to make decisions about her pregnancy to an ecologist’s efforts to block an Indian tribe from using their exclusive fishing rights.

    Do you think that’s an appropriate analogy?

    ROBERTS: Well, Senator, it was a position and an argument that the administration made that was accepted by the Supreme Court by a vote of 6-3.”

    Did you hear that, ladies? Our bodies are natural resources like lakes, forests or mines. Apparently we need men to tell us how to manage our property.

  7. Shanster
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    It may be a distasteful analogy, and if I had been him, I would have tried to think of a more appropriate one. In one of his later statements, to Feingold, Roberts stressed the calm dispassionate nature of justice. I think this shows how completely he buys into that concept.

  8. Posted September 14, 2005 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Shanster said: did people question John Kerry about his Roman Catholic faith influencing his ability to govern?

    I don’t think the issue came up at all in the main stream press, although I personally addressed the matter on many occasions just to be a cynical history geek. What you’re referring to, I assume, is the fact that especially in the early 19th century a number of groups (including also Freemasons and Mormons) were criticized by the general public as being a danger to the democracy. In the case of Roman Catholics, the issue was that their main point of allegiance would not be to our constitution or government, but to a “Foreign Prince” (The Pope), who could usurp the U.S. through his influence of voting blocks that were forming, primarily where poor Irish had settled in urban centers (this rhetoric came up again in politics during the potato famine in the 1840’s).

    Far from being a fringe attitude, “Anti-Papism” evoked riots, formation of political parties, and caused generations of immigrants to hide their religious affiliation for fear of public reprisal. A century later, when JFK ran for the presidency, the climate was still such that he had to essentially stand up and clearly swear that he held allegiance to the United States and NOT the spiritual leader of his church (Feinstein even brought this up in the Roberts Hearing, though he failed to respond clearly to the question posed).

    Following the 1960’s, however, we had the rise of the “Moral Majority” here in the U.S., and certain protestant churches and clergy became a serious political movement, with much clearer and openly admitted goals of controlling our government than any Pope ever had designs on.

    So, since that time, many people have been forced to make the difficult distinction of “Fundamentalists” or “Extremists” (neither term I like, by the way), vs. regular church-going members of denominations. Mr. Maynard has discussed this at length here, and the most obvious example in recent history is that the Middle Eastern family living down the hall from me shouldn’t be confused with the likes of Bin Laden.

    So, now we come to the Roberts situation, and I think the point you’re getting at is the veiled insistence that there is some sort of inherent desire to persecute him because he’s “Christian”. I honestly no longer have any idea what that term even means when a stranger uses it, as it’s been corrupted so much in the past two decades. What I do know, though, is that the individuals who are most loudly calling for Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice, tend to be the political groups using Jesus as a spokesmodel, whose general interests and motivations appear, to me, contradictory to both christianity, democracy, and especially the American flavor of government.

    So, while it’s similar in some respects to the rationale of 19th century pope-bashing, I think it’s a different set of circumstances which produced it and which have a better foundation of logic than the earlier philosophy, which at its heart was also a racist tool to exclude foreigners from the political process.

    The other point you made, about Roberts being “just a legalese-speaking lawyer”, is quite true. Most of his statements have been carefully crafted so as to be vague, and if insulting, then completely confusingly worded in the hopes of not making for good ‘soundbytes’ to play for the non-legalistic masses. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly expect my supreme court justices to have a law background, just as i expect a doctor to go to medical school, the FEMA director to have Emergency Preparedness training, etc. But I also feel that a Justice should have a much longer period of experience on the actual bench, passing judgements, which could then be evaluated by the confirmation committee. I think it’s a very cheap trick to find someone with a limited record of public work to be nominated, just because there’s a smaller paper trail to follow regarding his past decisions. To me this is really the biggest flaw of Roberts, who is perfectly qualified to become a judge for a circuit court, but simply hasn’t the experience I expect for filling one of those precious few spots in the highest court.

  9. dorothy
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    go brett! you’re my idol—er that is next after mark.

  10. Tony Buttons
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone asked him whether or not he intends to keep the gold bands around the arms of his Chief Justice robe, that were added by Rhenquist? I think he should have to tell America in advance if he’s got a new design in mind, like a skull and crossbones, or the insignia fo the Federalist Society, or an LED display that tells us all what’s on sale at Wal-Mart.

  11. Posted September 14, 2005 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Buttons,

    I think Roberts will be fairly conservative in changes to the robe design, following Rehnquist’s lead. From what I’ve heard, he has plans to adjust the placement of stripes slightly, and change the neckline a bit, but the most dramatic difference will be in his personal grooming once he gets confirmed.

    Here’s the design he’s based the new robe on.

    And if that link doesn’t work, then this joke has no punchline. Sorry.

  12. chris
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    All points well made. And though Brett has the most attractive hands…Tony remains my hero, with DCET running neck and neck.

    But Brett, I have been trying to remember this dude’s name (the pic) for like a week…I forget now why. Is it Alistair something, the high warlock of the church of 70’s satanism?

    Is it ethical to launder technically unavailable white babies through Venezuela? Do judges need consider ethics when making judicial decisions or do they just need to follow the letter of the law?

    Does anyone know if Scalia’s popped an artery yet?

  13. Teddy Glass
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Something new at Think Progress on what he will and won’t answer:

  14. Posted September 14, 2005 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Shanster: I don’t think that dehumanizing women is ever appropriate. I am deeply offended by the notion that after a man impregnates me, I’m to be treated like property, without right to privacy or liberty.

  15. Teddy Glass
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    People For the American Way is posting daily notes on the hearings. You can find them here:

  16. Shanster
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    My simple question was only to point out that Kerry was not questioned about his Roman Catholic faith, while Roberts was, as was Kennedy. In my opinion, Kerry seems to be a cultural rather than philosophical Christian, similar to the difference being a Semite and being an observant Jew (pre-apologies if the analogy doesn’t work).

    I thought that was Ming the Merciless, Max von Sydow.

  17. Posted September 14, 2005 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


    you’re 1/3 correct. I don’t understand your analogy, but will assume you understand my basic point about being a rank-and-file member of a church vs. an individual a powerful theological organization is openly endorsing, as you will further their agenda.

    It is Ming the Merciless (that’s the 1/3 you got right), but the actor is Charles Middleton from the earlier Flash Gordon Serials.

  18. Posted September 14, 2005 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    …And a funny, timely clip from the Middleton bio I linked to in the last comment:

    “The Kentucky born Middleton began his Hollywood screen career in the 1920s. Apparently because of his chiseled looks, snear and booming voice, he wound up typecast in genuinely evil or maniacal roles such as over zealous preachers … shyster lawyers … the town leader whippin’ up a lynch mob … a sinister lawman or judge … or the conniving and vicious boss of an orphanage, reform school, et al.”

    (endquote, emphasis mine.)

  19. Shanster
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I also don’t think dehumanizing women is every appropriate. You are not trying at all to understand the statement. In his analogy, women are analogous to the Indian tribe. The baby is analogous to the land. Come to think of it, I’m outraged that he would dehumanize a fetus like that.

  20. Posted September 14, 2005 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    By understand Shanster means re-interpret to a more palatable and different meaning. The land is the woman’s reproductive organs.

    So whatever horrible things people say, we can just imagine them saying something else. Problem fixed.

  21. Posted September 14, 2005 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I see what you’re saying, Shanster, but would you want the government to restrict your “fishing rights”? Would you let a bureaucrat make your medical decisions?

  22. mark
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been suspicious of owls since Twin Peaks… It gives me the creeps that this image of “John Roberts” that I found depicts him as an owl-man…. Sorry to interupt your fight…. I just felt as though I had to mention that.

    And remember, “The owls are not what they seem.

  23. Dan from Austin
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Robverts will take to wearing a mustard colored robe and have a star trex style insignia placed on his chest. That would rule!

  24. mark
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I think you were thinking of Anton LaVey, Chris, the head of the Church of Satan. Here

  25. chris
    Posted September 14, 2005 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Yeah that’s right! Thanks.

  26. Shanster
    Posted September 15, 2005 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Thanks for understanding. As far as I know, we are not fighting, just respectfully disagreeing. I don’t want the government making medical decisions for me, you’re right. The issue in the ‘indian fishing rights land’ was the right of a group to engage in civil disobedience. You’re going into the bigger abortion picture, which I cannot comment on during these proceedings.

  27. Shanster
    Posted September 15, 2005 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    What is the point of the whole hearing process? Obviously, Roberts is a conservative, and personally holds conservative positions. Here’s how the typical line of questioning goes:
    Senator: I represent people who favor X. I know there’s are many cases involving X so you can’t comment on it. Nonetheless, do you support X?
    Roberts: I can’t comment, as you know.
    Senator: I understand, but if I said that I disagree with X, would you agree with me?
    Roberts: I can’t comment.
    Senator: But if I said that I knew someone from my constituency who said that you said that you don’t disagree with X, would you support that statement?
    Senators know that he will not answer, but they keep asking.

    I’m not sure why he wouldn’t answer the question yesterday regarding end-of-life issues. I think the Senator was Joe Biden. I thought he was addressing the Constitutional question of a living will be overridden or overruled by the government. Surely, conservatives would have liked to hear him vow to protect their personal decisions and rights against the intrusion of the government. Was there something else at play in that line of questioning?

  28. be OH be
    Posted September 15, 2005 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    It’s a rare day when I am in agreement with you, shanster, but the bulk of the questioning in this hearing has gone exactly as you’ve described it. John Roberts is obviously an extrememly bright legal mind who will not be tripped up by the hamfisted trickery that many of the senators are attempting to use.

    Did anyone catch the exchange yesterday when Roberts volunteered that his favorite movies were Dr. Zhivago and North By Northwest? That might have been the most revealing information gleaned from him the entire day.

  29. Posted September 15, 2005 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I generally agree, too, Shanster, and am enjoying our respectful conversation. I don’t expect Roberts to answer questions like that either, but I think the argument that women should be restricted from making their own medical decisions by comparing them to land is akin to arguing that Black people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because they are the property of whites. I don’t think anyone would dare vote to confirm him if he said something like that about Black people, yet he will likely be confirmed having argued that women are like property.

  30. Posted September 15, 2005 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    beohbe, based on that information, I have developed a plan.

    Clearly the only way we can get a straight answer from Mr. Roberts, is if we reconvene the hearings to the tip of Lincoln’s nose on Mt. Rushmore.

    I suspect he’ll talk then.

  31. be OH be
    Posted September 15, 2005 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Everyone cracks when they’re being buzzed by low flying aircraft.
    Alternately, we could subject Roberts to a long Russian winter

  32. mark
    Posted September 15, 2005 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve spent a few minutes now trying to change Dr. Zhivago and North By Northwest into porn titles, but I’m not getting anywhere. The best I could do was “Dr. Viagro,” and “Ass By North Ass.”

    Can anyone do better?

  33. Anonymous
    Posted September 22, 2005 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    light MY f1re
    I better do that too. digs around to find out how Hil lost so much weight

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