In a completely unsurprising move, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Minority leader, said he plans on voting against the nomination of John Roberts to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
"I intend to cast my vote against the nomination when the Senate meets here next week," Reid said on the Senate floor.The reason why:
"For me, Mr. President, this is a very close question. But I must resolve my doubts in favor of the American people, whose rights would be in jeopardy if John Roberts turns out to be the wrong person for this job," he said.
Reid said the main factor that soured him on Roberts was the series of memos Roberts wrote on civil rights while a member of the Reagan administration. Reid concluded the worst from them.
"It is now clear that as a young lawyer, John Roberts played a significant role in shaping and advancing the Republican agenda to roll back civil rights protections," he said.
Essentially, Roberts argued on behalf of the Reagan administration that quotas were a negative. For some reason, the left is generally in favor of quotas, even though they are diametrically opposed to the concepts of equality and fairness they are designed to protect. Affirmative action is a positive thing; quotas are poor policy. Other Senators understood this:
Roberts did publicly win the support Tuesday of Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, with whom he met on Tuesday. Chambliss explained to senators that the Reagan administration was against quotas, not affirmative action, and that President Reagan had always argued a big difference existed between the two. After their meeting, Chambliss said Roberts deserves to be confirmed.
"If integrity counts, if honesty counts, if knowledge of the law counts, if family values counts, If being a true American counts, you can't vote against this man," he said.
As an interesting note, notice the difference in how each Senator presents the issue. Reid makes a blanket statement, accusing Roberts of helping to "roll back civil rights" - without explaining the how or why, or even what it is he is referring to. Chambliss mentions it specifically, and explains exactly what the issue is and why it is a positive for Judge Roberts' record.
It is a common theme among politicians, media, and others, to make broad and sweeping statements without explaining the issues they are referring to. The idea is for the general public to have a question in its mind as to whether this person is (in this example) for or against civil rights: If the issue itself were put to the public, in specific terms, the majority of the public would most likely side with the other side. By not presenting the issue itself to reach the public, and creating doubt with generalities, the average citizen will be concerned enough to not want that person confirmed.
In this case, however, Reid has taken a somewhat smarter path, and deserves some respect for it.
During his floor remarks, Reid said Roberts' nomination does not rise to the level of "extraordinary circumstances," the code phrase used to suggest whether Democrats would employ a filibuster.Essentially, Reid is admitting that Roberts is otherwise qualified, only that as Reid himself is not sure of Roberts' stand on this issue he himself will vote against him. This is especially wise considering the issue: The general public would not take too kindly to the Democrats filibustering Roberts, and to risk the Republican-controlled Senate taking away the right to filibuster over a nominee most people think is highly qualified would not be terribly bright.
Roberts should easily get enough votes, though it's sad that so many Democrats will now vote against him. What should be far more interesting, however, is who President Bush nominates for Sandra Day O'Conner's post.
Technorati tags: Reid, Roberts, Supreme Court.