Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Much Ado About Roberts/Nothing

So far, the complaining about Roberts has been kept to a minimum and designated to the fringe. There is the chance that this could all change though. Some of Roberts writings are now being reported in the press. Stay tuned for fallout.

As a young lawyer in the Justice Department at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's presidency, John G. Roberts advocated judicial restraint on the issues of the day, many of which are still topical, documents released Tuesday by the National Archives show.

He defended, for instance, the constitutionality of proposed legislation to restrict the ability of federal courts to order busing to desegregate schools.

On other civil rights issues, he encouraged a cautious approach by courts and federal agencies in enforcing laws against discrimination.

Not exactly a badge of honor, but from a constitutional perspective, not indefensible.

Judge Roberts, now on the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also argued that Congress had the constitutional power "to divest the lower federal courts of jurisdiction over school prayer cases."

In another memorandum, he maintained that the Supreme Court, to which he is now nominated, overreached when it denied states the authority to impose residency requirements for welfare recipients.

This was an example, he wrote, of the court's tendency to find fundamental rights, like the right to travel between states, for which there was no explicit basis in the Constitution. "It's that very attitude which we are trying to resist," he wrote.

Could it be that Roberts is a--drum roll please--strict constructionist. Say it ain't so.

In one handwritten memorandum, Judge Roberts suggested his view of how the Constitution should be interpreted, saying, "real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read," without attention to what outside commentators were writing.

It certainly looks that way. This could explain why there has been little havoc coming from the left, at least by those in power.

When it comes down to it, a strict constructionist is not one to be feared. Let the people and the states decide is the default position of a truly conservative judge. This is not only the correct position--not just my humble opinion, but the law of the founders--but it is inoffensive.

If Roberts is truly a strict constructionist, no one has the right to complain. Praise the Lord and pass the federalist papers if we've got ourselves a truly conservative judge. If not, or if he steps out of line, please rip him to shreds liberals.

Until then, it's good to see Hillary and others giving Roberts, and constitutional juriprudence at least a chance.

Here's to a peaceful confirmation.

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