Ed Team

Tribe Isn't Joining the Herd

Filed By Ed Team | July 21, 2005 5:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

Laurence Tribe was a leading figure in the fight to defeat the nomination of Robert Bork. He's among the most respected liberal legal minds in the country. Here's what he told the New York Times about John Roberts:

"He's conservative in manner and conservative in approach," Mr. Tribe said. "He's a person who is cautious and careful, that's true. But he is also someone quite deeply immersed in the law, and he loves it. He believes in it as a discipline and pursues it in principle and not by way of politics."

Will he vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Will he restrict government's ability to enforce environmental regulations? Does he find a right to privacy in the Constitution?

We can predict those answers with the same certitude of a prediction that a conservative former California governor named Earl Warren would reflect the philosophy of judicial restraint and inaction of the President who appointed him Chief Justice. Of course, that prediction would have been proven quite wrong by, among others, rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education.

Should we be concerned? Of course. But the country survived Roger Taney, as did the expansion of Constitutional liberties to those who Taney ruled were not fully human thus not citizens. John Roberts won't bring about the apocalypse. As one of John Robert's teachers at La Lumiere School (I taught there some years back) used to say to excitable teenage drama queens, "Remain calm."

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AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 05:52:41 PM

I can just see you trying to say, "Remain calm" to Paul Revere.There's calm and then there's taking a nap in front of an advancing steamroller.Beyond that, I refer you to my continued comments on your previous post.

AUTHOR: Anonymous

DATE: 7/21/2005 05:56:13 PM

Putting Tribe Into Perspective--He is a bona fide liberal and one of the country's foremost constitutional law professors. As such, he really courts relationships with the Supreme Court justices so that he can hand-pick among his favorite students clerks to serve the justices. It is well-documented how he wooed Justice Kennedy into his camp that way. I'm sure he's hoping he can do the same with Roberts-but I don't think Roberts is the type of person to abandon his strong philosophical leanings.Gary Welsh

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 06:56:06 PM

President Bush "promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas, and that is exactly what he has done."--Family Research Council's Tony Perkins

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 06:58:41 PM

Pat Robertson was almost giddy, claiming that Roberts is "exactly [the sort of nominee] the president said he would give us."

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 06:59:11 PM

Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition said: "Conservatives who supported George W. Bush have no reason to be disappointed [by Roberts' nomination]. He has more than fulfilled his pledge."

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 06:59:32 PM

Operation Rescue praised President Bush for "being a man of his word by appointing a judge that will respect the Right to Life" and praised Roberts for having "strong conservative credentials with indications that he will not uphold Roe v. Wade."

AUTHOR: Tracy Elliott

DATE: 7/21/2005 09:44:15 PM

But they WERE, Blanche. The British WERE coming. Paul didn't think they were coming. He didn't read The Nation to see if it was acceptable to believe they were coming. He didn't quote experts to convince the ignorant and lazy populace they were coming. His lookout SAW them coming...one if by land, two if by sea. It was a fact, not an assumption. Remaining calm doesn't preclude being resolute. Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes. And, just to trump your two metaphors with three, don't cry wolf when Lassie comes to play with one of your sheep. If you shoo away Lassie, she might be replaced by the big bad wolf. (Is that a fourth metaphor?)

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/21/2005 11:32:49 PM

Actually, I was never a fan of Lassie and wouldn't be overly troubled if he was 'removed'.By the way, some of us Southern Grrlz are not the swooning kind. The Randolph Grrlz, in fact, are anything but. It's an obscure reference but we, too, albeit in an earlier generation, went to watch for the British but, after watching them for weeks do nothing more than form a blockade on the Chesapeake and blow up one French warship that got into a rather splendid firefight with them, we literally wrote, "Have got tired of waiting for the British and gone home. The fish at the Inn downriver were a fine repast and the fireworks on the bay entertaining but we do not approve of Gov. B's disregard of the needs of his men and approve even less of his lack of concern for the horses." (And we later ensured that Randolph papa beat the pants off ol' Gov. B, too. Even nuttier than a fruitcake at times, Papa Randolph did a better job.)I have not been unmindful of the possibility of getting worse should Roberts not be confirmed. While it's typical, as I pointed out earlier regarding Souter, for "second serves" to be softer, with this bunch of treasonous ne'er-do-well Nixon holdovers and neocon ChristoNazis at the helm, nothing is as it should be. But, as this is a pretty powerful deal of the cards already, it seems foolish not to play the hand.In throwing back my "ignorant and lazy", please take care not to misquote by removing it from its very specific context.BTW, my subscription to The Nation is currently not in force. Besides, when someone like Roberts has record of his own enough to peruse, one hardly needs to wait a week for their self-appointed oraclesque confirmation to be be able to say that, like Mr. Revere's British, he's already here -- this time via the two-lamp route.

AUTHOR: Jerame Davis

DATE: 7/22/2005 12:15:39 AM

Of all things to keep in mind here is this...Bush made his mark. He didn't appoint some old fogey who'd die off in 10-15 years...Oh no. He appointed a young, spritely, 50 year old man who will easily have 25 years on the court, if not more.He didn't take that decision lightly. There is no way that Roberts isn't a tried and true conservative. Bush's only real deliverable for the right-wing is his SCOTUS nominee. He's pissed away every bit of credibility he could have hoped for on this war and the myriad other scandals that should have already broken.All Bush has left are his appointments to the court. He's not going to sacrifice anything on this opportunity. They've been planning this vacancy for nearly 5 years (longer, if you believe the conspiracy theories.) This was cold and calculated...If anything, this guy is MORE conservative than his record would suggest, not less.The real problem is that it simply didn't matter who Bush picked, it's been played up so much in the media, that if there is a real showdown, it's going to be labelled as politics as usual. Every media pundit you watch talks about each side's "war chest" and how they've "raised millions" to fight this battle long before "there was ever a nominee"...So no matter which side of this you take...You lose. It's genius and smacks, again, of Karl Rove.

AUTHOR: Tracy Elliott

DATE: 7/22/2005 11:31:21 AM

Exactly right, Jerame. Bush is going to nominate someone who he believes will reflect his philosophy and be his legacy. If not John Roberts, then someone else. Someone maybe better, maybe worse, but it ain't gonna be anyone we'll like. The ONLY chance that this appointment, whoever it ends up being, will not tilt the court to the activist right is if the person behaves in a way on the Court that no one would have been able to predict, another Souter or Stevens. If one actually believes one can predict that, you should be in the 1-900-CALLDIONNEWARWICK business.

AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 7/22/2005 03:15:55 PM

Aw, Tracy, now who's thinking too little of the people?Get a clipboard, slap a No on Roberts petition on it, and take it, with a good summary of his rulings -- particularly the anti-environment and pro-corporate polluters ones -- out amongst them collecting signatures as many of us did yesterday.My evidence is admittedly anecdotal but, at a popular farmer's market in a middle-of-the-road city in a red state in the Heartland, about forty-five percent of those randomly approached signed -- and that was when the news on Roberts was still pretty much administration fed bio-puff stuff.Part of the Rove tactic is to try to make people believe there's no chance so they'll give up fighting before the first bell rings. Don't buy it. The people, when not ignorant from lack of information but have their laziness about acquiring it overcome by the enterprising and energetic, tend to come through for the right thing -- especially when they realize that someone's been trying to pull the wool over their eyes.And ShrubCo does pull back when they are forced to by the people. Case in point, Social Security.

AUTHOR: Tracy Elliott

DATE: 7/22/2005 05:17:53 PM

Marla, you need to be just a bit more of a strict constructionist (now don't hyperventilate) when interpreting my posts. My comments didn't mention "the people." As the original author of the post, I can assure you that my attitude about "the people" is not hidden in the penumbra of the text. The original intent of the author (me) was to comment upon what the President will do. I am the Supreme Court of interpretation of my own words. If I were to write about my attitude concerning the American people, it would reflect my belief in their collective wisdom and fairness, even though both may not be evident in many specific instances. I realize many individual Americans are "ignorant" and "lazy" (and some are even "silly"), but as a body politic -- with the assistance of time and of people of conscience and courage sometimes pushing them (people such as M. L. King and M.R. Stevens)-- they (we) are an amazingly wise assembly. As you say, "they tend to come through for the right thing." And when we don't, we have a system of laws based on our founding principles, expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution, that provides the needed correction, like a wise old Grandmother. I think it was Edmund Burke, or Reinhold Niebuhr, or Russell Kirk who said "People are foolish; the People are wise."Now, Marla, you have to decide: Are the people ignorant and lazy or are they not? You just can't have it both ways. Did you stumble into a hidden lagoon of rare birds smart and motivated enough to sign your petition, or did your mere presence get them off their asses and give them smarts? Perhaps instead of being ignorant and lazy and requiring the brilliant and enterprising few to save them from themselves, they are judicious but pliable, resisting the extremes and remaining calm and optimistic.