Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard reports
SCOTUS nominee John Roberts was pointedly and thoroughly interviewed by the White House, including a grilling from Karl Rove.
Fear of another Souter led George W. Bush to seek the answer to a single question when he interviewed five potential nominees. All five were deemed to be conservatives. The question was whether they'd be the same 25 years from now as they are today--in other words, just as conservative. The interviews lasted from one hour to nearly two. Bush found John Roberts the most impressive. He decided Roberts would not lurch to the left as Souter had or even drift in that direction as other Supreme Court appointees of Republican presidents have. A White House official said Bush doesn't expect Roberts to "grow in office."
Bush Jr. wasn't the only one in the White House to interview Roberts. The "political wing" of the White House got its chance as well.
Roberts is not a "stealth" nominee in the Souter mold. "We know a lot more about Roberts than was known about Souter," a Bush aide says. Roberts went through the confirmation process before, when he became a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He was endorsed by much of the Washington legal community and by colleagues from the Reagan and first Bush administrations. The president received messages through intermediaries that conservative Justice Antonin Scalia felt Roberts would be a great addition to the High Court. At least Bush aides thought the messages were from Scalia.
Besides the Bush interview, Roberts had to pass another test, the Rove interview. Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, and legal counsel Harriet Miers talked to the candidates for the court at length. Rove, too, was interested in finding out if Roberts was really a conservative and would remain one on the court. He came away convinced Roberts is no Souter.
So, if the White House gets to so thoroughly and pointedly (as well as privately) question the SCOTUS nominee on his conservative views and his plans for the next 25 years, why can't the Senate Democrats?
The Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee better grill this guy. I fear more and more each day that instead of a "Stealth Souter" we're getting a "Stealth Scalia."