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here's another article on smirk's payoff to Roberts

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donsu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 12:34 PM
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here's another article on smirk's payoff to Roberts /

Thank You, Mr. President
Last week, John Roberts wrote Bush a blank check.

Since Sandra Day O'Connor resigned almost three weeks ago, John Roberts has been the Washington, D.C., establishment choice to take her seat on the Supreme Courtamong some Democrats as well as Republicans. As a deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, Roberts wrote a brief arguing that doctors in clinics receiving federal funds shouldn't be able to talk to their patients about abortion (the Supreme Court agreed) and in passing called for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. But some liberals are quick to argue that on the Supreme Court, Roberts would be open to rethinking such right-wing positions. They take comfort in his reputation for being likable and fair-minded.

Roberts may indeed turn out to be a wise, thoughtful, and appealing justice. Tonight when Bush announced his nomination, Roberts talked about feeling humbled, which won him points on TV. But an opinion that the 50-year-old judge joined just last week in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld should be seriously troubling to anyone who values civil liberties. As a member of a three-judge panel on the D.C. federal court of appeals, Roberts signed on to a blank-check grant of power to the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections.


The opinion Roberts joined, written by Judge A. Raymond Randolph for a unanimous panel (though the third judge, Stephen Williams, expressed a reservation in a concurrence), swallows all of that and then some. The opinion says that Congress authorized the president to set up whatever military tribunal he deems appropriate when it authorized him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to fight terrorism in response to 9/11. While the president has claimed the authority only to try foreign suspects before the tribunals, there's nothing in the Hamdan opinion that stops him from extending their reach to any other suspected terrorist, American citizens included. This amounts to a free handand one Bush is not shy about extending. The administration has already devised its own tribunals to review its claims that the Guantanamo detainees are all enemy combatants who are not entitled to the international protections accorded to prisoners of war. As of February, 558 hearings had resulted in freedom for only three prisoners. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legality of these tribunalsa question that Roberts may now help decide.


At oral argument, Roberts appeared to recognize some of the weaknesses in the government's stance. In particular, he quizzed Hamdan's lawyers about the Charming Betsy principle of respecting international law. But none of the reservations he appeared to harbor then are reflected in the opinion he joined. So, what does that say about John Roberts? Did he decide that Judge Randolph had it right down the line in Hamdan, or did he sign on to a flawed and sweeping opinion because he was auditioning for the job Bush has now picked him for? Neither prospect is reassuring.
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