John Roberts: No Bobblehead

John Roberts: No Bobblehead by David Whelan David Whelan The squeaking of sweaty hands being wrung in Washington D.C. can be heard all the way out here in the heartland. Is John Roberts the anti-christ or the anti-anti-christ? Did he really support the side of gay men seeking civil rights? Or has he stood firmly on the right of godliness and the strict construction of the Constitution advocated by the evangelical right?

Who knows?  What is fascinating, though, is that someone who is clearly very clever and involved at the highest levels of the Federal legal system, could be such an unknown quantity.  I laughed at the recent Tom the Dancing Bug which had Justice Antonin Scalia finding a baby strict constructionist in the woods and planning to have the babe – named John Roberts – placed with an upstanding family.

Anyone who is willing to be associated with the Federalist Society leaves something to be desired in my mind, as a “liberal commie”, as described by my brother.  Talk about an organization that stands for everything wrong with politics and government.  But Roberts, in apparently typical fashion, wasn’t really connected with it enough that anyone could see his membership badge.

There’s a good chance that George Bush – the ultimate bobblehead – thinks he’s getting the perfect conservative candidate.  I’m not sure that it really matters whether Roberts is what either the self-righteous Right or morally relative Left thinks he is.  It’s exciting to think that there is a jurist who cannot be pigeon-holed like so many of the politicians, political judges, political lawyers, and others gumming up the legal system.  The beauty of the American legal system is that it has attracted some of the most remarkable minds, whether it’s Justice Taney (slavery restrictions unconstitutional in Dred Scott ) whose death thankfully deprived the Union of his continued services, or Justices Holmes or Marshall or Blackmun.  If the questions of law – and of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – were clear cut, these jobs could be held by any body capable of serving on a jury or flipping burgers.

The world has not ended since Justices Thomas and Scalia ascended to the highest court, although one might argue that certain corners are darker than they were before.  Judge Roberts hearing will be interesting and I wish him the best.

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David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.