Editorial Endorsements: Most Favor Roberts

Here's a quick sampling of some of the yays and nays from other editorial boards around the country.

In the Yes column:
Chicago Tribune (doing the editorial equivalent of rolling its eyes at the senators' gratuitous grandstanding)
Ft. Worth Star Telegram (beating the baseball metaphor to death)
Hartford Courant (hoping Roberts surprises his critics)
Minneapolis Star-Tribune (convinced enough that he's not an ideologue)
New York Daily News (a Roberts lovefest)
Orlando Sentinel (impressed with his resume and intellect)
Philadelphia Inquirer (figuring Roberts for Rehnquist is an even tradeoff)
Rocky Mountain News (an over-enthusiastic yes -- he's referred to as "Chief Justice John Roberts" in the first sentence)
St. Petersburg Times (suggesting Dems ammunition would be better spent on the next nominee)
Wall Street Journal (sarcastic and biting, as usual, complete with comments like, "Nowadays, Oliver Wendell Holmes would struggle to get Democratic votes.")
Washington Post (understanding they're probably not going to agree with Roberts very often)

In the No column:
New York Times
(If I find more editorials expressly opposing Roberts's confirmation I'll update.)

The Post's Fred Barbash notes in the Campaign for the Court blog that the Post and the Times find themselves on opposite sides of this particular debate.

The Post editorial board endorsed Roberts's confirmation, while the New York Times editorial board said Roberts should be rejected. More on that below.

Before I continue, two important caveats: First, the Post's editorial board (like most respected American newspapers' editorial boards) speaks for itself; the news side of the paper remains neutral. The editors on the news side have no say in what the board writes, and vice versa. Second, I am not a member of the Post's editorial board, so I do not and cannot speak on its behalf.

The Post editorial acknowledges that "on a number of important issues, Judge Roberts seems likely to take positions that we will not support," and goes on to list a few areas of likely disagreement (presidential power, civil liberties, privacy and possibly abortion.) "These are all risks," the editorial says, "but they are risks the public incurred in reelecting President Bush." I know, the idea that Bush's election could have such an enormous impact on the next 30 or more years of fundamental jurisprudence is highly upsetting to many progressives worried that Roberts and the next nominee will "turn back the clock."

Fear not -- according to the Christian Science Monitor, Roberts is a progressive! The Unclenuclear blog argues that accepting a "risky" nominee is not a necessary consequence of the election, and also provides some interesting fodder for the judicial confirmation hearings To-Answer-or-Not-to-Answer debate. The answers (or lack thereof) given by the nominee are discussed in two editorials, both titled "Judge Roberts Speaks" -- one in the Post, the other in the Baltimore Sun.

The Times bases much of its argument on that debate, contending that Roberts simply did not provide enough information to assuage the fears of his skeptics. The editorial mentions one particular incident that offers a glimpse into why many reasonable people are nervous about having Roberts on the court. A 12-year-old girl was arrested for eating french fries on the Washington Metro, and Roberts upheld the arrest. (For those of you not from around here, eating and drinking aren't allowed within our subway system. It should be noted that grown men in business suits are known to scarf down bagels and sip coffee on the Metro, and I have yet to hear of a case of one of those guys being arrested. But I digress.) I don't know enough about the intricacies of the law to say for sure how well reasoned that decision was, but on first glance, the punishment does seem wildly out of proportion to the crime.

A key consideration, as the Post editorial points out (and was part of The Debate early last week), must be that in raising a big fuss over Roberts, the Dems would give Bush -- whose majority in Congress means he faces no pressing need to compromise -- more reason to choose an extreme nominee. "In the longer term," the Post continues, "Republicans might feel scant cause to back the next high-quality Democratic nominee, as they largely did with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer." This is compelling -- the Dems aren't really in a position to negotiate, so they've got to pick their battles, as Rosa Brooks suggests in the Los Angeles Times.

E.J. Dionne disagrees, writing the definitive case for voting No. Howard Dean -- no shocker here -- also comes out against Roberts.

Perhaps the most realistic op-ed is from Sheryl McCarthy of Newsday, who concedes that Roberts will be nominated, but is disturbed that he "still doesn't get it that a racially 'neutral' law can keep black voters disenfranchised for 70 years if Congress doesn't step in, that it's profoundly un-American to keep someone in prison for years without bringing him to trial, and that a woman's desire to terminate an unwanted pregnancy should trump the state's desire to impose its morality on her." She hopes that some of what was said by senators at the hearings will "jar his sensibilities a little, help him understand how his decisions affect real people, and encourage him to display more modesty, humility and humanity in the future than he has in the past. We'll all be watching."

By Emily Messner |  September 19, 2005; 8:45 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
Previous: London's 'The Guardian': A Chief Justice Confirmed | Next: Democrats, Scalia and Roberts

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Conservatives framed this one excellently. If you disagree with Roberts, it's on an ideological level. Those that disagree with Roberts on an ideological level are in a minority in Congress.

There is nothing else to hang him on and it's wise of his ideological opponents to concede that.

Posted by: Tina A. | September 19, 2005 11:32 AM

Tripe from the WSJ again. Of course Oliver Wendell Holmes, as he existed then, would be rejected today. We frown on eugenicists these days.

Posted by: carpeicthus | September 19, 2005 12:45 PM

"A 12-year-old girl was arrested for eating french fries on the Washington Metro, and Roberts upheld the arrest. (For those of you not from around here, eating and drinking aren't allowed within our subway system. It should be noted that grown men in business suits are known to scarf down bagels and sip coffee on the Metro, and I have yet to hear of a case of one of those guys being arrested. But I digress.) I don't know enough about the intricacies of the law to say for sure how well reasoned that decision was, but on first glance, the punishment does seem wildly out of proportion to the crime."

This is misleading in that "upholding an arrest" is not the same as "punishment." In point of fact, the quote does not even mention what the punishment was.

An arrest begins the criminal justice process -- the punishment comes after adjudication has determined the guilt or innocence of the accused.

If there is any criticism to be raised regarding this event, it should be directed against the legislative body that wrote the law in the first place and against the DA who chose to file charges.

Posted by: David G. | September 20, 2005 05:43 PM

My son is has a PhD in computer engineering. He felt that is was his duty to go to NO and help the people in need. He drove as far as he could and rode the rest of the way with the national guard unit assigned to the stadium. He help the Red Cross and other groups distribute food and water to these individuals. Food was infant formula, MREs, cold/hot sandwiches, coffee, and bottled water. The local (ingrates) shown on national TV were demonstrating because the food was not from McDolalds, Pizza Hut, Toco Bell,... the drinks were water and coffee...not cold beer, cold soft drinks, and wine. Someone brought several hundred pounds of rice, dried red beans, and ground beef. So he began to cook Red Beans and Rice for supper.....people threw large chunks of pavement at him calling him foul names. They were going to be rescued...so why cook food that only the "soldiers could eat." He left on the first available boat with 8 children whose parents were looting a store several blocks away when the first boats came. He spent six days in Biloxi/Gulf Port helping to the people of Mississippi and never saw an incident like those in LA although the people in Mississippi lost more than those in LA.

Posted by: S Shannnon | September 21, 2005 03:16 AM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.