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View Diary: On Reacting to Roberts: It's Not Just Fairness, It's Smart Politics (225 comments)

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  •  Reid's using good public rhetoric, but ... (4.00)
    this nomination is not about Roberts or the case he makes.  Roberts will be confirmed.  

    Instead, this battle is for the hearts and minds of the public.  This nomination is about what case the Dems can make for our values and out view of the Constitution.

    This nomination presents the Dems with an opportunity.  The opportunity to starkly and clearly draw the distinction between the values of the Dems and the values of the religious right.  The focus of this nomination needs to be on defining the differences between the Democratic view of the judiciary and the Republican view of the judiciary on a few key issues that can be pounded over and over to drive the point home.

    The number one issue needs to be "The Right to Privacy" defined operationally not as "abortion" but as keeping the government out of the decisions of adult Americans to use birth control and have consensual sex in the safety of their own home.  We need to demonstrate that the Republicans believe that the government has the right and power to police our bedrooms.  We need to show how radical their view is.  

    •  Yes, privacy is THE issue (4.00)
      What is Roe but a subset of the larger, more important issue of privacy? Even Americans who do not love abortion are big believers that they have a constitutional right to privacy, and I wonder how many of those people understand that the MAIN legal (as opposed to "it's killing babies!" moral opposition) opposition to Roe is that the constitution has no explicit guaranteed right to privacy? My guess is few people. But that's how the right wants to ultimately kill Roe--that's what Roberts himself argued before the Court.

      The very first question to Roberts should be "Do you believe that Americans have a right to privacy under the Constitution?"

      Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it.

      by David J on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 12:15:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Work on Griswold, not Roe (none)
      Views on abortion are deeply divisive but on contraception they are not.  But you get the virtue of looking at the basic principle that underpins both by making Griswold v. Connecticut (the 1965 contraception case) the issue rather than Roe.

      That was used very effectively by the Democrats with Bork, for the good reason that Joe Sixpack would damn well be concerned about a nominee who wouldn't defend a constitutionally protected right to contraception.

      •  It's about keeping the policy out of the bedroom. (none)
        Griswold is a leaping off point, and Eisenstadt and Lawrence are pillars, but the rhetoric, for the benefit of the public and the commentators, has to be short and punchy.  

        The goal of the Dems in these nomination hearings should be to portray the Republicans as liars.  The soundbites on the talk show should look like this:  "Sure they SAY that they want to make government smaller, they want to make it small enough to fit into your bedroom."

        Roberts has to be put into a position where it becomes clear that he thinks it is ok for the government to police the bedroom.

        And then they need to move on to the other individual rights issues: freedom of religion, civil rights in the face of government police power, etc.

        And the Dems need to stay away from esoteric debates on issues that just aren't clear cut like the Commerce Clause, Federalism, takings, regulatory power, affirmative action, tort liability, death penalty, etc.

        The focus needs to be squarely on the clear cut winners for the Dems: Right of Privacy (keeping police out of our sex lives), Freedom of Religion (keeping the government from forcing us to worship a particular way), and civil liberties (the government can't lock you up and throw away the key without a trial).

        •  Mostly agree (none)
          I certainly agree on the point you made about simplicity of framing.  

          Just don't sell short the potential to do that with some of the regulatory issues, especially on the environment -- not only for their own sake in terms of the starkness of some of the issues (especially health ones), but also because they have some potential to show Roberts as the flack for corporations that make their profits by poisoning our children and our air, water, and land that he is.

          •  That's tin foil hat talk. (none)
            Roberts represents corporations.  So do at least two of the front page posters on this site.  So do I.  So do a lot of very prominent liberal attorneys.  An example, John Keker, the prosecutor in the Oliver North trial, a former law clerk of Earl Warren, former staff counsel to the NRDC, spends most of his time representing corporations and corporate defendants.  I could make similar statements about a LOT of liberal attorneys.  Even Elliot Spitzer represented corporations when with Paul Weiss and Skadden Arps.

            Fact is, most Americans work for, invest in, and consume the products of corporations.  An "anti-corporate" rhetoric is going to get us nowhere.

            And focusing on esoteric cases about regulatory power that are EASILY explained away by reference to the narrow legal issues presented is a losing strategy.

            The focus must be on what Americans care about.  We are a fundamentally libertarian country and a focus that shows the Republicans want to curtail our rights, not expand them, is what will win us support.

            •  A little defensive? (none)
              This is really a pretty minor point you're arguing about here.  Having worked on environmental legislation in Congress in the past, there are ways to portray the importance of some of these issues for people's daily lives that are effective.  I wasn't trying to write the script for that here, just suggesting it those issues can work to some extent because I've seen them work.

              Your quick resort to name-calling is way out of proportion, and doesn't say much about the substance.  This is a really tangential conversation.

              •  My apologies. (none)
                I'm not suggesting you are crazy.  I am suggesting that the anti-corporate rhetoric that I see from MoveOn is a real mistake.

                Roberts has issued numerous decisions upholding the regulatory power of administrative agencies.  He has also issued decision that held that Congress did not have the power to engage in certain types of regulations, including an Endangered Species Act case.  The issues presented by those competing decisions was NOT the wisdom or lack thereof of environmental regulation, but esoteric questions of the regulatory power of Congress under the interstate commerce clause.  And frankly, Roberts can hold his own in that debate and the public won't care anyway.

                We need to really focus the issues or we lose.

                •  Appreciate that (none)
                  I agree that environmental/regulatory issues are  tricky to work with, easy to get away into arid intellectual discussions that a smart guy like Roberts could handle with his eyes closed, and shouldn't be the central focus.  But one thing I learned during Bork (I was on Senate Judiciary staff then) was that there were a lot of different issues that reached different Senators, and that it's very hard to predict the issues to which some of them may react.  

                  On a Supreme Court nomination you have a lot of opportunity to explore different issues by splitting them among different Senators' questions.  If you hit pay dirt on even a small aspect of one series of questions, you can explode that point by forcing a Senator on the other side to give the nominee make-up questions, which perpetuates and amplifies the issue in a way that can give reporters hooks.  

                  The good side of talking about specific past cases is that it personalizes otherwise-abstract issues in a way that the media loves.  Nothing like a TV interview with a past appealling victim to make things real.  It also helps to keep the discussion reality-based, which is often hard to Republicans to deal with (facts on a record!  Heaven forbid!).

                  •  But this isn't Bork. (none)
                    Roberts will be confirmed, he wasn't the perp in the Saturday Night Massacre.

                    No.  This isn't about convincing some fence sitting Senator to ding Roberts because it's never going to get that close.  This instead is going to serve no real purpose other than to give the Dems the opportunity to take advantage of the platform illustrate the differences between us and the Repubs issues of individual freedom.  

                    In short, this is our chance to show that the Repubs aren't the party that wants the government off our backs, they are the party that wants the government in our bedrooms.

                    Discussing regulatory issues (e.g. expansive Federal regulatory power versus leaving that power with the States) will serve only to detract from what could be a powerful message.

            •  What is pro-corporate? (none)
              Most often (in practise) it means protecting stongest special interests, often at expense of remaining (just as) corporate interests.

              We are on a slippery slope if everyone avoids questioning corporate influence. Democrats should learn better how to control this intelligently.

              I agree that we must focus on how Republicans want to curtail people's rights. But allowing corporations all the power they ask does hurt freedoms of many people. At least Dems may remind this.

              In my diary I proposed to ask Roberts about the implicit principle "corporation rights are human rights". I may say that I do support some "human rights" for corporations (like due process, etc). But I would prefer them clearly stated in enacted laws, rather than implied by the dreadful equivalence. So I do wish that Roberts would be asked this question in Senate hearings, especially since the comparable (but only formally implicit) privacy principle will certainly show up.

    •  Yup, this isn't about Roberts, it's about Bush (none)
      and the GOP.

      Roberts is obviously a stealth candidate, and his judicial background is so scant as to be beside the point. The responsible Judiciary Committee members will try to find out what makes the man tick, and ask him hypothetical questions, which -- being well coached -- he will dodge. They will try to link his past writings to potential cases, which he will sidestep. There's not much we in the blogosphere can do about that.

      What we CAN do is try to draw some more blood from Bush, who -- if the polls are accurate -- is walking wounded right now. We should be hammering home such points as:

      • How could he responsibly nominate somebody to the highest court who has been a judge for just two years?
      • What about the appearance of a Bush conflict of interest vis à vis Roberts, e.g. Roberts' role in Florida vote in 2000 and his recent ruling upholding Guantánamo show trials?
      • 7 of 9 current SCOTUS members were nominated by Repubs. Look at Roberts' background (Rehnquist clerking, etc.) and his wife's affiliation. How can Bush pretend this is a mainstream choice?

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