Justice Katrina’s — er, Roberts’ — Hearings Begin

By September 13, 2005Judicial Nominations

Judicial NominationsA foreigner arriving in the US and turning on the TV to see the John Roberts confirmation hearings would be forgiven if they believed the President had instead nominated someone named Katrina. To be sure, her name was invoked far more than the nominee’s in the early salvos fired by Sens Leahy and Kennedy. It is truly a puzzler, as we’ve observed before. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Jeff Greenfield yesterday why all the hubbub over Katrina. Greenfield explained it all as folks in the #2 story of the day trying to get in the #1 story. Probably not too far from the truth.

Apparently the argument goes thusly (and thinly): the effects of Hurricane Katrina laid bare the abject poverty in the inner city of New Orleans for all of America to see. This has reminded some to question Judge Roberts on issues of importance to the poor, or something like that. However, you would have to say that if you compiled a list of culprits on whom to blame urban poverty over the past 100 years, the United States Supreme Court would be at or near the bottom of the culpability scale. We’ll let others speculate as to who should be at the top.

So we go back to our knitting: Judge Roberts should be confirmed because — according to our criteria — he has the intellect, fair-mindedness and integrity to be Chief Justice. He has shown a commitment to applying the law rather than his personal views, has an understanding of the importance of clear rules as well as an understanding of the importance and practical consequences of his decisions on business and commerce.

Sometimes, in battles of credibility, you only have to look someone in the eye. Anyone who doubts John Roberts should watch or read his opening statement. Without consulting a note, while staring intently with piercing blue eyes at the men (and one woman) who will judge him, he said, “I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear of favor, to the best of my ability.” His references to his boyhood life in middle America were at once sincere and heart rending. This is a man we should all be proud to call Chief Justice.

And so we say, give to Katrina what is Katrina’s. We expect Congress will spend a disproportionate amount of time (and, no doubt, money) on her from now ’til the end of the year. She will have her 15 minutes of fame and then some. But in the meantime, let’s move with all due speed to confirm Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court.