For now, the only label all but tattooed on Roberts' forehead simply reads, CONSERVATIVE BUT NOT AN IDEOLOGUE--which makes it impossible to know the brokering role he might assume. It is possible that Bush thinks he has found a bomb thrower with a pleasant face. But the choice could indicate where the President comes down between the two species of conservatives who have been jockeying for position on the Supreme Court-- those who remain committed to the sanctity of the institution and its traditions and those who want to blow it up.Since he's not going to answer judicial philosophy questions, none of us will really know until he starts issuing opinions.
When Roberts spoke last week of the lump in his throat whenever he climbed the marble stairs, it rang true to anyone who had ever watched him in action. And it would match the history and mystery of the court if it turned out that Roberts ultimately alienates conservatives and not those who fear any Republican appointee. Roberts may agree in spirit with those who see the past 50 years of jurisprudence as too expansive and too intrusive but respect too much the way the law is shaped to ride in and blowtorch it. He may just prove willing to conserve even opinions he faults. If that is so, then it will not be the liberals who come to wonder at George Bush's choice.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The conclusion of TIME magazine's examination of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts: