Carol Platt Liebau: Teddy Speaks

Friday, August 19, 2005

Teddy Speaks

There are few more intellectually dishonest, brass-knuckled partisan senators than Teddy Kennedy (I'll spare you the obvious Chappaquiddick jokes -- they're just too easy).

Today, he has a piece in The Washington Post, claiming that he needs -- needs! -- documents from John Roberts' tenure at the Justice Department (some twenty years ago) to ascertain whether the judge is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, i.e., whether his views comport with Teddy's own.

His argument is dishonest on its face. Is there anyone who thinks that Teddy Kennedy would really consider voting for John Roberts? I didn't think so . . . And given that he really doesn't have an open mind, it's hard to imagine why anyone would think that any of his "demands" should even be heard, much less met.

And former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger should be ashamed of himself. In the past, he has argued -- along with all the other former solicitors general -- that documents from that office shouldn't be subject to discovery by the legislative branch. Now, at least according to Teddy, he's attempting to argue that the Roberts case is a distinction:

"Roberts was writing memos not as a civil service lawyer but as a senior political appointee in a policymaking position, and the judgeship at stake isn't any federal judgeship but the Supreme Court itself."

This is just incredibly dishonest. First, the whole rationale for refusing to release confidential memoranda is that doing so would, in the future, deprive top policymakers of the unvarnished views of their subordinates. If that rationale obtains in the case of a "civil service lawyer," how much more is it relevant and important in the case of a "senior political appointee in a policymaking position"?

Second, Dellinger apparently is attempting to distinguish between "any judgeship" and "the Supreme Court itself." For someone who -- as Solicitor General -- was supposed to be dedicated to principled argument, this is laughable. The difference is one of degree, not of kind. The Supreme Court may be more powerful than the other federal courts, but the principles at stake are the same . . . Dellinger simply seems to imply that, if the position at stake is high enough, the principle doesn't matter. Disgraceful.

The rest of Teddy Kennedy's piece is nothing more than the usual mishmash of liberal pretension and accusation -- John Roberts will turn back the clock, he's against civil rights, blah, blah, blah. It's lucky for him that his brother was president; otherwise, his "sell by" date would have expired long ago.


Blogger cookie jill said...


Sounds like Judge Roberts has some 'splaining to do to women like you, and his lawyer wife.

"some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good" - john roberts

I personally think it does contribute to the common good as you are wonderful and talented women (just confused on your political views) ;-)

9:54 AM  
Blogger Bachbone said...

'Grasping at straws' has new meaning for crystal ball gazers who think they can determine the intent of a line of type.

Were I to join in the mind reading game, my personal orb would 'see' that line as a tongue-in-cheek joke to a colleague, who happens, by the way, to be a female university graduate, from someone whose wife happens to be a lawyer.

But I do admit that it's difficult to detect humor when no smiley face was then available to place at the end of that sentence, especially if the reader is intent on using the line to tar and feather its author.

10:54 AM  
Blogger cookie jill said...


gee...I really love the sound of condescension in the morning...Not.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

Carol, you are absolutely correct. The President has thoroughly reviewed Judge Roberts documents before he made his nomination. How dare Ted Kennedy ask to see the same information the President based his decision on? Why can't the Senate just trust the President and rubber stamp his decisions?

Seriously, Carol, did you sleep through the Whitewater investigation? Kenneth Starr requested the similar documents from and was turned down by the Clinton administration. Ken Starr took the administration to court and the Eighth Circuit held that the Solicitor General and deputies serve the American people and hence the public has access to their work product notwithstanding claims of exceutive privilege. Given how jubilant the wingnut right was over this decision, it seems strange that you have forgotten all about it.

Why won't the Bush Administration release the Roberts documents? What are they hiding?

12:48 PM  

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