Scene from John Roberts’ Confirmation Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Recent discussions of Judge John Roberts reveal that he is not an altogether satisfying choice for those who occupy places at both ends of the political spectrum. Liberals have been in a tizzy since his nomination, fearing that he will perhaps be in a majority that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Even some conservatives have had persistent questions as to Robertsâ€™ conservative bona fideâ€™s (which I wrote about two months ago here).
In particular, conservatives have been questioning what kind of a conservative justice Roberts will prove to be. Is Roberts the kind of conservative who will conserve the judicial status quo (in deference to the legal principle stare decisis), or is he one who will conserve the Constitution according to the framers original intent even if it means overturning long-standing precedent?
It is clear that the conservative base that re-elected George W. Bush expects conservative justices according to the latter definition. Thus a bevy of well-known religious conservatives have lauded John Robertsâ€™ (see article in CT) as an originalist. For example, both James Dobson and Tony Perkins have expressed their approval of John Roberts.
Nevertheless, a handful of conservatives such as Fred Barnes and Ann Coulter have suggested that Roberts may be so beholden to precedent that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade. The ambiguous responses that he gave to questions during his confirmation hearing have only reinforced such suspicions.
Edward Whelan has written an interesting piece for National Review Online titled â€œAbortion & Precedent: What John Roberts Really Said.â€ Whelan argues that Coulter and friends have misunderstood Robertâ€™s intentional ambiguity on the Roe v. Wade precedent.
Check out Whelanâ€™s article. I hope he is right.