Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Illogical Opposition

As the increasingly frustrated left-wing opposition to the SCOTUS nomination of First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. is discovering, facts are stubborn things - and the more they try to twist them, the harder they snap back.

Case in point:

Since his nomination, the mantra of John Roberts’s opponents has been that he’s “out of the mainstream” and “extreme.” These descriptions have been applied most often to Roberts’ positions on matters related to civil rights....

Roberts’s opponents maintain that the policy preferences allegedly revealed in the briefs he’s written as an advocate are radical and regressive....[but] if Roberts’s advocacy positions regarding civil rights are, as his opponents insist, extreme or out of the mainstream, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that those positions would be summarily rejected by the Supreme Court?...

Most arguments that survive to be heard before the Court are taut and tempered. Yet 50% of these arguments must necessarily fail, regardless of how lucid, cogent or substantive they may be. Probabilities would suggest, therefore, that even if Roberts somehow slipped past the gatekeepers and got to make truly extremist civil rights arguments before the Court, it would reject virtually 100% of them, or at bare minimum, far more than 50%. Otherwise, the Court also would have to be labeled as out of the mainstream.

Roberts’s opponents should be stunned, then, to learn that the Court agreed with Roberts’s “extremist” civil rights positions 70% of the time.

The immediate reaction of some Roberts opponents might be to contend that this high percentage is inflated by the presence and influence of conservatives (read “fellow extremists”) on the Court such as Scalia and Thomas. But of the 13 justices before whom Roberts has argued 11 have agreed with his advocacy interest more than 50% of the time.

To be sure, of the current Supreme Court justices, those that agreed most often with Roberts’s advocacy interests were Rehnquist (74% of the time) Scalia (70%) Kennedy (70%) and Thomas (69%). Yet even liberals such as Ginsburg (60%) Stevens (57%) and Souter (57%) agreed with Roberts more than 50% of the time....

Organizations such as the NAACP, which last week declared that recently revealed documents indicate Roberts has “a longstanding hostility towards core NAACP civil rights priorities,” clearly must not be aware of the foregoing. Nor must they be aware of one additional fact: Thurgood Marshall, former chief counsel for the NAACP, lion of civil rights litigation and hero of Brown v. Board of Education, Sweatt v. Painter and Murray v. Pearson, agreed with Roberts’s advocacy position 67% of the time — nearly the same as Scalia and Thomas and more than O’Connor, the justice who upon her retirement was praised as “moderate” by many of those now opposing Roberts.

Unless Roberts’s opponents are prepared to call Thurgood Marshall a civil-rights extremist they need to acknowledge that Roberts’s advocacy positions, as well as his judicial decisions, are squarely within the mainstream.

Roberts' opponents know this, just as they know that he's no abortuary bomber or woman-hater or trafficker in child pornography or closet beastialist. But that won't stop them from spinning any mendacity they can think of that stands a chance of slowing down his ascent to Mt. Olympus.

In the end they will simply hold elected Democrats hostage via the only leverage the latter understands: fundraising. And thence will come the inevitable filibuster, and its (probable) GOP busting via the Constitutional option.

Or, if the lamebrained optimism of McCainiacs like Lindsey Graham pans out, his seven "moderate" Dem counterparts in the "memo of understanding" will recognize a filibuster for the futile insanity it would (probably) be, and Roberts will be confirmed absent an accompanying "mushroom cloud."

But either way, he will (probably) be confirmed.

'Tis the logical - and human - thing to do.