26 September 2005

Democrats on the Roberts Nomination.

The word that best describes the Democratic response to the nomination of John Roberts, Jr. to serve as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is clusterf***. It involves large numbers of people on our side scr**ing each other.

Alas, Ken Salazar, our new Democratic Senator from Colorado, is among the Democratic Senators who are voting for a man who has made a career of being a political hack for the Republicans, whose most notable vote in his brief term as a judge was to side with an opinion that considers the Geneva Conventions worthless pieces of paper in the United States, who is at least as conservative as arch-conservative William Rehnquist, who just left the bench. In classic Salazar style, he listened to what Roberts said (very little) at his hearing and in an interview with Salazar, instead of his actions, which speak far louder than his words.

Until Democrats wake up and realize that giving in once makes you weaker the next time, and not stronger, they will continue to be ineffectual. Political will is not a scarce commodity to be expended. It is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. By conceding easily on Roberts, the Democrats have insured that the next nominee, the one who will replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, will be far more conservative than Roberts, which insures that the Court will lurch far to the right.

There aren't more than one or two Democrats in the Senate who actually agree with the direction that Roberts wants to take the Court, but many Senators, in the name of comity, are engaged in the masochistic act of voting for a man who will do just that. Trust me. The Republicans will not return the favor when the shoe is on the other foot. By voting for Roberts, Democrats are denying themselves the option of even running against the conservative judges picked by the likes of George W. Bush in the next election. Roberts, as a Rehnquist clone, doesn't actually change the balance of power in the U.S. Supreme Court. But, this appointment does set the stage for a Kennedy Court, or worse, when O'Connor is replaced. And, since all judges are equal, it makes no sense to fight differently for one vacancy than for another.

Yes, it is better to have more Democrats in the Senate, and yes, Salazar does vote with Democrats more often than he does with Republicans (he is the 39th most liberal Senator in a chamber where there are 55 Republicans). But, it is hard to provide an enthusiastic endorsement to someone who doesn't provide even symbolic support to the Democratic base on core issues like judicial appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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