The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 September 2005

Democratic strategery

Is Harry Reid out of his depth? Get a load of this:

"Now that the president has said he will nominate Judge Roberts as chief justice, the stakes are higher and the Senate's advice and consent responsibility is even more important," Democratic leader Harry Reid said Monday in a statement. "The Senate must be vigilant."

How exactly are the stakes higher? The Chief Justice is but one vote among nine; his opinion counts no more than that of any other member of the Court. As a reward for his title, he gets some extra paperwork and the task of counting heads.

Of course, Reid once said he could back Antonin Scalia for Chief Justice, which suggests to me that Reid might be thinking the affable John Roberts would actually be more efficient at building a reliable conservative consensus on the Court than would the caustic Scalia.

Or it could just mean that they cut off a random thirty seconds from the big spool of audio clips in the back of Howard Dean's office, and this is the one Reid got.

Posted at 10:27 AM to Political Science Fiction


The CJ sets the tone for the court's conferences and sets the rules for running the building. He is, in effect, the pointy-haired boss, so now they're even more concerned about how pointy-haired he is.

Other than that, I'm with you - I don't know why he didn't nominate Scalia for CJ unless some powerful people told him not to, or unless he thought there was a chance in hell that Scalia wouldn't get confirmed. As long as Scalia is smart enough not to resign as Associate Justice until he's confirmed as CJ, it's just a shift in chairs without much power shift. He's been around the building long enough to know how to make things work.

Roberts, alas, has never even heard a trial. The CJ is the head of the US Judiciary, so maybe experience is called for. I dunno. Earl Warren didn't have much experience, but the right didn't seem to like him very much.

Posted by: Matt at 9:24 PM on 5 September 2005

They didn't expect Earl Warren to make any waves. (This is what conservatives used to do in the 1950s and thereabouts: conserve the status quo. The recent trend toward conservative activism is an invention of Ronald Reagan / Newt Gingrich / Richard Mellon Scaife [choose one].)

Whatever the motivations, it will be interesting.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:35 AM on 6 September 2005

Roberts, alas, has never even heard a trial.

He has, however, sat on an appellate court for two years.

It's been a long time (ahem) since SCOTUS presided over a trial.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:25 AM on 6 September 2005