Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John G. Roberts and the Real Stuff

The shrill blogosphere echo-chamber having kicked up to high volume in record time for and against Judge Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court, let's not lose sight of the facts.

The manifestly non-partison Supreme Court Nomination Blog has posted an analysis of Roberts' voting patterns during his tenure with the D.C. circuit court. Surprise, surprise, he's not the antichrist. As Kevin Russell, Anisha Dasgupta, and Brian Fletcher observe, his voting record actually betrays no clear ideological leaning.

While Judge Roberts agreed most often with some of the court's most conservative members (agreeing nearly 100% of the time with judges Ginsburg and Silberman), he agreed nearly as often with some of its most liberal members (agreeing 95% of the time with judges Rogers and Garland). The two judges with whom he disagreed the most were relatively liberal judge Edwards (disagreeing in whole or part 18% of the time) and quite conservative senior judge Williams (10%).

Relevant caveats, further discussion, and a break-down of the data are available here. None of this stuff is dispositive, especially given the observation that the D.C. circuit court decides an extraordinary proportion of its cases unanimously (rendering even a 5% deviation potentially meaningful). I merely hold this up as a palliative to all the unsubstantiated allegations and assumptions, and all the patent misinformation, that already has tained the debate. It's an exemplum of what will make for a full and fair airing of issues and concerns prior to and during the confirmation hearings. Thankfully, the information is there for people who care to look for it.

Democrats and progressives are going to have to decide -- and soon -- whether they actually want to engage in a rigorous confirmation inquiry or just bang the podium and hold their breath until they turn blue. Love him or hate him, Judge Roberts has put together quite a record of accomplishment, and not just as a conservative lackey. He deserves an honest discussion to the extent he's willing to participate in it. Based on his prior confirmation hearings (for a full record of those hearings, follow the link in this Volokh Conspiracy post), my guess is he'll be a candid and direct subject.

(Hat tip, Orin Kerr at VC)


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