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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Judge Roberts can say "I am not empowered to fix this" despite the temptations

Yesterday I wrote (emphasis in original):

[B]y far the single most important quality that the new Justice must have, if Dubya is to keep his campaign promises, is the willingness to write words like these: ... I am not empowered to fix this. That's the essence of what Justice Thomas said [in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas], and it's exactly what the new Justice has to be willing to say — even when, and most especially when, the temptation to reach out and fix things is nearly overwhelming.

Last October, here's what new SCOTUS Associate Justice-nominee John G. Roberts wrote in Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 386 F.3d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (emphasis mine):

No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation. A twelve-year-old girl was arrested, searched, and handcuffed. Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later — all for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station. The child was frightened, embarrassed, and crying throughout the ordeal. The district court described the policies that led to her arrest as "foolish," and indeed the policies were changed after those responsible endured the sort of publicity reserved for adults who make young girls cry. The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Like the district court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm.

Bingo! This is a very fine example of what I was talking about. If you read the entire opinion, you'll see a tightly constructed, well-written and -reasoned piece of judicial prose that (as such things go) is remarkably unstuffy, and that meticulously follows existing precedents to reach its conclusion. That fits, of course, with Judge Roberts' academic and professional track records, and it's reassuring. But to paraphrase Renée Zellweger's character in Jerry Maguire: He had me at "[n]o one is very happy ...."

(One thing I'll add about Judge Roberts' record that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere, but that I can confirm as someone who was applying for circuit court judicial clerkships at about the same time Judge Roberts was: clerking for the late Henry J. Friendly of the Second Circuit was considered one of the half-dozen absolute "plum" clerkships in the country, in some ways more impressive than his later clerkship for then-Associate Justice Rehnquist.)

As a blogger, a lawyer, a conservative, a conservative lawyer-blogger, and the father of two french fry-eating girls ages ten and fourteen, I enthusiastically support Judge Roberts' nomination.

And I thank and commend President Bush for a superb choice that does indeed keep the promises he made in both of his presidential campaigns. With respect to those who had their knickers all twisted about whether Dubya would blow this opportunity, I say: "Misunderestimated him again, dintya?"

Posted by Beldar at 07:59 PM in Law (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Judge Roberts can say "I am not empowered to fix this" despite the temptations and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» SCOTUS nominee to get primetime announcement (updated and sticky) from protein wisdom

Tracked on Jul 19, 2005 10:00:01 PM

» I'll take Beldar's word for it.... from Media Lies

Tracked on Jul 19, 2005 10:53:42 PM

» SCOTUS Nominee Watch: Blog Reactions from ~Neophyte Pundit~

Tracked on Jul 19, 2005 11:29:02 PM

» john g linkfest from Cafe Oregano

Tracked on Jul 20, 2005 7:15:37 AM

» Playing to the [social] conservative base from protein wisdom

Tracked on Jul 20, 2005 12:06:10 PM

» "GW Seeks Revenge for Yet Another Slight to Dad" from Guide to Midwestern Culture

Tracked on Jul 20, 2005 12:16:56 PM

» Georgetown Law Prof. Peter Rubin distorts Judge Roberts' opinion in the Hedgepeth "french fry case" from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Aug 14, 2005 3:00:10 PM


(1) brandon davis made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 8:26:35 PM | Permalink

I've been frantically reading what I can about this guy for the last 45 minutes (being thoroughly clueless about his bona fides), and you have no idea how relieved I am to hear stuff like this. Thanks, B'.

(2) Thomas Jackson made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 8:49:08 PM | Permalink

This nomination is vital. I'd refrain from comment on the quality of this candidate but seeing Schumer's reaction I'm inclined to be more at ease.

What's unfortunate is that the hard Left appears ready to bork this man instead of keeping it civil.

(3) Scott1798 made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 8:57:04 PM | Permalink

Thank you, Beldar, for your insight. I didn't know much about Judge Roberts when I heard the President announce him for SCOTUS, so I got on the internet and checked your blog. And I got what I wanted, an honest opinion, supported by factual evidence, of the worth of the man.

(4) vnjagvet made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 8:57:42 PM | Permalink

Superb. From all I hear, he is a first class human being and a superlative appellate lawyer at the highest level.

I predict he will eat Schumer, Biden, Kennedy, Leahy and Durbin alive. And best of all, they will not even know it.

I cannot wait to see the hearings.

"God bless the United States and this honorable court".

(5) bridge_to_tomorrow made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 9:28:49 PM | Permalink

This is it. This is what we worked so hard for, this is the payoff. After all this time, after every slur, every dumb rant, we finally get what we needed. Everything else is transient, this actually means something.

Thank you George Bush for once again justifying my confidence in you.

(6) MaDr made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 10:02:48 PM | Permalink

Count me pleased, but not thrilled. Startegically, I would have nominated someone more conservative (Luttig) and pushed the Dems right up to the Byrd Option. The first nominee is a foregone conclusion to be approved, so hit 'em hard right.

For the second nominee, I would have eased back closer to the center with a Roberts, so the 7 Dwarves could feel better, and the hardline Left could feel they'd achieved a victory, of sorts. To now go from a Roberts to a Luttig will make it easier for the Dems to claim "extraordinary circumstances" and their enablers on the Right to feel like they need to concede them one.

(7) Jon made the following comment | Jul 19, 2005 10:09:42 PM | Permalink

Thanks for tracking down the Hedgepeth decision.

It's exciting to see a legal surgeon appointed rather than just an ideologue, and it seems Rogers has impeccable credentials.

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