Hate to Say I Told You So

Washington Post editorial, September 18, 2005: Confirm John Roberts

Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy. Before his nomination, we suggested several criteria that Mr. Bush should adopt to garner broad bipartisan support: professional qualifications of the highest caliber, a modest conception of the judicial function, a strong belief in the stability of precedent, adherence to judicial philosophy, even where the results are not politically comfortable, and an appreciation that fidelity to the text of the Constitution need not mean cramped interpretations of language that was written for a changing society. Judge Roberts possesses the personal qualities we hoped for and testified impressively as to his belief in the judicial values. While he almost certainly won’t surprise America with generally liberal rulings, he appears almost as unlikely to willfully use the law to advance his conservative politics.

Washington Post editorial, January 15, 2006: Confirm Samuel Alito

Humility is called for when predicting how a Supreme Court nominee will vote on key issues, or even what those issues will be, given how people and issues evolve. But it’s fair to guess that Judge Alito will favor a judiciary that exercises restraint and does not substitute its judgment for that of the political branches in areas of their competence. That’s not all bad.

Washington Post editorial, June 29, 2007: A Blow to Brown

Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion correctly took the four-justice plurality to task for its glib assertion, in the opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., that the “way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” As Justice Kennedy noted, “Fifty years of experience since Brown. . . should teach us that the problem before us defies so easy a solution.” There is reason to doubt whether the leeway that Justice Kennedy would give school systems would be adequate for the task, and, even if it were, to worry how long that uneasy equipoise would hold on a court tilting as far to the right as this one is.